Coe Booth is a graduate of The New School's Writing for Children MFA program, and a winner of the L.A. Times Book Prize for Young Adult Fiction. She is the author of TYRELL and KENDRA, and was born and still lives in the Bronx.
In her first novel, set in a Brooklyn ghetto, Booth conveys the frustration of a teenager who is trying to lead a better life despite all the pressures to do otherwise. Narrator 15-year-old Tyrell is in love with Novisha ("that's the only thing I got going for me right now") and dreams of the two living together. However Tyrell faces some major challenges. With his father in jail for the third time, Tyrell is homeless. He's living temporarily at the roach-infested Bennett Motel ("got rats the size of cats and shit"), sharing a room with his mother and little brother, Troy. He needs a way to make some money, but he wants to be sure it's legal: "I get locked up, Troy gonna end up back in the system." Using his father's DJ equipment, Tyrell forms a plan that could bring in a good chunk of money and get them back in an apartment. Using the voice of an inner-city teen, Booth keeps the story focused on Tyrell and his ups and downs as he struggles to do the right thing, and keeps the plot developments realistic-especially Tyrell's relief after his brother is taken by the Administration for Children's Services, allowing him the opportunity of freedom ("Back home to the projects. Where I belong"). Tyrell's frank talk about sex may be offensive for some readers, but only adds to his character's credibility. Ages 12-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Gr 9 Up-Now that his father is in jail, nothing seems to be going right for 15-year-old Tyrell. His mother's refusal to work and her stint with welfare fraud have forced them into homelessness and life in a roach-infested shelter in Hunts Point. At the shelter, Tyrell soon realizes that his attraction to another resident, Jasmine, could derail his dreams of a future with his girl, Novisha. Torn between the needs of the women in his life and his seven-year-old brother, Tyrell is determined to stay clean as he agonizes over creating a new life for his family. Booth combines the rhythm of raw street lingo with the harsh realities of an inner-city urban life to illuminate the labyrinth of Tyrell's world. As he struggles to escape this circle of poverty, he must also battle dual temptations of sexual frustration and the easy money he could make as a drug dealer. This is a thrilling, fast-paced novel whose strong plot and array of vivid, well-developed characters take readers on an unforgettable journey through the gritty streets of New York City's South Bronx. At its heart is the painful choice the teen must make as he realizes the effect of his mother's failure to do right by their family.-Caryl Soriano, New York Public Library Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
After his DJ father is incarcerated for drug dealing, 15-year-old Tyrell, his brother and his mother
are rendered homeless and move to a slummy city shelter in the Bronx. His mom's ineffectual attempts
at keeping the family afloat financially and emotionally soon fall flat, and Tyrell is forced to take the
family's situation into his own hands. Inspired by his father, he decides to throw a secret dance party
in an abandoned bus garage with a steep admission charge guaranteed to boost his family's income.
Booth, a writing consultant for the NYC Housing Authority, clearly understands how teens living on
the edge-in shelters, in projects, on the street-live, talk and survive. It's the slick street language of
these tough but lovable characters and her gritty landscapes that will capture the interests of urban
fiction fans. While the complex party-planning plotline doesn't exactly cut a straight path, its
convoluted-ness undoubtedly illustrates the kinds of obstacles these teens must overcome and the
connections they need to make in order to survive-inside or outside the law. (Fiction. YA)
. . .
You don't hardly get to have no kinda childhood in the hood. At 15, Tyrell, is trying to keep his little brother in school and safe in their roach-infested shelter in the Bronx. He's dropped out of school, and Moms wants want him to sell weed to make money. But Tyrell is too smart. He doesn't want to end up in prison like his dad, so he tries to organize a neighborhood party to raise money. His girlfriend, Novisha, isn't happy that Tyrell has dropped out. She loves him, and they make out, but he respects her wish to remain a virgin. Booth, who was born and raised in the Bronx, is now a social worker there, and her first novel is heartbreakingly realistic. There are some plot contrivances--including Tyrell's stumbling upon Novisha's diary--but the immediate first-person narrative is pitch-perfect: fast, funny, and anguished (There's also lots of use of the n-word, though the term is employed in the colloquial sense, not as an insult). Unlike many books reflecting the contemporary street scene, this one is more than just a pat situation with a glib resolution; it's filled with surprising twists and turns that continue to the end. --Hazel Rochman