Flyy Girl

Flyy Girl

4.7 647
by Omar Tyree

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From a fresh new voice with talent to burn comes this brash, bitter-sweet novel about Tracy Ellison, a young, middle-class teen coming of age in Philadelphia's ostentatious eighties. Tracy is willing to go much further than any of her girlfriends as she sets out to lure the most popular boys in her neighborhood. Spoiled by her relatives and too much for her mother to… See more details below


From a fresh new voice with talent to burn comes this brash, bitter-sweet novel about Tracy Ellison, a young, middle-class teen coming of age in Philadelphia's ostentatious eighties. Tracy is willing to go much further than any of her girlfriends as she sets out to lure the most popular boys in her neighborhood. Spoiled by her relatives and too much for her mother to handle, Tracy uses her personal brand of intimidating flattery to conquer one guy after another - until she meets her match in Victor Hinson, her Mr. Everything. Too grown and too fast for her own good, Tracy races through her sixteenth year, collecting designer clothing, jewelry, and street-smart boys with wild abandon. While Tracy pursues her adventurous, fast-paced lifestyle, Raheema, Tracy's girlfriend and neighbor, follows a very different course - struggling to maintain good grades in school and to avoid the powerful pressures to stray from the path she's chosen. Slowly Tracy begins to examine her life, her goals, and her sexuality - as she evolves from a "flyy girl" into a woman.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This unremarkable African American coming-of-age story, originally published by a small press in 1993 (as was Tyree's first novel, Capital City), tracks Tracy Ellison from her sixth birthday party in 1977 to her 17th birthday. Tracy grows up in the middle-class Philadelphia suburb of Germantown. The daughter of a pharmacist and a dietitian, she is pretty and intelligent, armed with solid self-esteem and a sassy mouth. Like most of her friends, she's also boy crazy, and readers watch as her physical maturation leads to increasing sexual activity. While experiencing the indulgent, hip-hop 1980s and the insidious effects of the cocaine economy that flourishes in black communities, Tracy must also come to terms with her parents' separation. Tyree captures black language as it is spoken among peers; like Terry Macmillan he uses scatological references without restraint. The conversation of youngsters caught in a highly pressured sexual atmosphere, test-driving their sexuality long before they're old enough for a license, is profane and vivid. The narrative flow is often disrupted by too many italics and slang-defining asides, and by a rocky imbalance between neutral narration and vernacular. The real problem here is a crucial lack of depth; even when Tracy's teenage chatter gives way to some soul-searching questions, the queries themselves and the answers to them are trite and superficial. Author tour. (Oct.)
Library Journal
The dialog in this coming-of-age African American story by Tyree, who self-published two books before getting his big break, is some of the best this reviewer has read in a long time. Tyree has a way making each phrase of every conversation true to life, whether spoken by a child or an adult. The story begins at Tracy Ellison's sixth birthday party. We follow her through her parent's shaky marriage to grade school and high school. Although the story does not venture much beyond Tracey's boy-chasing escapades and an occasional side plot about her next-door-neighbor, Raheema, the book is an entertaining diversion. Tyree writes so well that readers will put up with Tracey, who is selfish and often unkind. The author captures growing up in the Eighties with a subtle and finely rendered backdrop of songs and mischief reminiscent of the era. This should be enough to keep folks reading to the mildly rushed ending while hoping that the nasty little "flyy girl," Tracy, learns a few lessons along the way. Recommended for large collections.Shirley Gibson Coleman, Ann Arbor Dist. Lib., Mich.
Kirkus Reviews
Tyree's debut is much longer than a YA novel, and far more vulgar, but the subject is pure teen: The ins and outs of dating matched up with a guide to fashion dos and don'ts. The further twist is that it's set in a largely black neighborhood of Philadelphia, where whites exist only as an excuse for some silly Afrocentric theorizing.

At the heart of this morality tale is Tracy Ellison, a young girl whose adolescence and teenage years are depicted largely as a monotonous soap opera. The daughter of hardworking parents, Tracy lives in Germantown, a middle-class neighborhood, and does well in school. Her problems stem mainly from boys, and for most of her young life, she's truly boy-crazy. So much so, that this overlong narrative records in dull detail her years of flirting, courting, kissing, and having sex—"a game of choosing and chasing and dumping." By 13, she's tall, curvaceous, and cunning; she "had to have whomever she wanted right away." That includes a wide range of eager young men, from the awkward and fumbling Bruce to the violent thief Timmy. With time, Tracy learns not to give it out without getting things in return, even though her behavior shocks her lifelong neighbor, Raheema, a studious girl who postpones her deflowering. What finally turns Tracy around, though, is the sad example of Raheema's older sister, who has become a crack whore. In this tightly ordered universe, bad living leads to addiction, unwanted pregnancy, jail, or death. Tracy also comes under the influence of some college girls who introduce her to the world of Kente cloth and the Minister Farrakhan.

Tyree's shapeless docudrama seems written for an audience he intends to shock—why else would he pause so often (and so awkwardly) to translate slang terms that any watcher of Moesha would know? But for all its immoral behavior, it's a cautionary of the most heavy-handed sort: virtue rewarded; vice punished.

From the Publisher
E. Lynn Harris With a thoroughly entertaining and confident voice, Omar Tyree leads the pack of a new generation of African-American male writers.

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Product Details

Simon & Schuster
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt

From Chapter One: Drifting Apart

"Happy birthday toooo you. Happy birthday toooo you. Happy bir-r-rth-day dear Tra-a-a-a-cy . . . Happy birthday toooo you," the crowd of sixteen children sang, helped along by some of the parents who were present.

It was Sunday afternoon in Tracy's sixth year of life, nineteen-seventy-seven. She sat proudly on her father's lap at the table in front of her birthday cake. She cracked a broad smile in her cute red dress. Her newly tied ponytail dangled down her neck. Her hazel eyes enlarged as her daddy helped her to cut the two-layer cake while the other children watched excitedly, all wishing that it was their birthday.

Tracy's daddy, Dave Ellison, was deep cocoa-brown and hazel-eyed and had the lean figure of a trained athlete. He was a youthful twenty-nine-year-old, possessing the boyish face of a teen. Dave wore no mustache or beard, obeying his self-imposed hygiene regulation. He believed that his clean-shaven face presented a healthy and professional appearance at the hospital where he worked as a pharmacist.

Tracy's smooth, honey-brown skin was exactly half the richness of her father's tone. She had inherited his light-colored eyes along with the almond shape and long eyelashes of her mother, Patti. Tracy's eyes seemed to glimmer whenever the sun hit them, making them sparkle like a cat's eyes. She was average height for her age, not standing out among the other kids. But her daddy was tall, and her mother was no midget herself. Patti had inherited a considerable amount of height from her father, Jason Smith, who had died in a car crash a year ago. So Tracy, it seemed, was destined to be tall.

Tracy's cousins had always envied the attention she received. For her birthday, she received presents and money from all of her guests and relatives. Her aunts bought her new clothing and shoes that her cousins wished they could have. All but two of her six cousins were older than she was.

Patti, matching her daughter and wearing red herself, bought Tracy a pink Mickey Mouse watch. Dave gave her a small gold ring.

Most of the parents sat around eating ice cream and cake and watching the television set inside of the kitchen. Their kids played board games in the Ellison's large, finely decorated basement.

The kids began to scream and yell once Patti decided to put on a VCR movie. The 27-inch, floor-model, color television set was a brand new RCA. Dave had bought it a week before the party. He had moved the old, 19-inch Sony, with stand, into Tracy's room. Her cousins envied that, too.

Out of four sisters, Tracy's mother Patti had captured the best man. And Patti had been considered the prettiest sister since their youth, with her light skin, curvaceous body and dark, almond-shaped eyes.

Dave was definitely a catch. His high income enabled them to move into a comfortable and scenic black neighborhood in Northwest Philadelphia. In Germantown, they had the luxury of private lawns, patios, driveways and lots of trees, which surrounded their three-bedroom twin-house, things not affordable to the many Philadelphians who lived in crowded row-house areas. Patti worked at a nursing home as a dietitian, adding to their snug income.

So far, Tracy was their only child. Dave was an only child himself. Patti's three sisters each had two children.

Tracy fought with her cousins constantly. At most of their family gatherings, her mother and aunts tried unsuccessfully to keep them apart. Their unruly children could destroy an entire party with infighting. They had done it many times before.

The kids, ten girls and six boys, including Kamar, Tracy's only boy cousin, watched Cinderella. The girls were having more fun than the boys, who would have rather watched Dumbo. But it was Tracy's party, and she wanted to see Cinderella first.

The children spilled juice on the rug, left crumbs on the tables and got melted ice cream all over their bodies. Patti ran behind them, cleaning up to keep the house neat and pretty.

There were carpets in every room except for the kitchen, which had new blue and white tile floors. And when Patti finally gave up trying to salvage what was left of her clean house, she went and sat in her large kitchen with her sisters and the rest of the parents.

"Girl, this house is just beautiful," a parent said enthusiastically, as though the house had energized her.

"Yeah, girl, you just don't know how much we put into this house,'' Patti quickly responded, trying to be modest.

"Well, if my man had some money, I could've had a house like this, too," Patti's younger sister Tanya said. She stood inside the kitchen entrance leaning up against the wall. Tanya was well-curved herself, wearing a royal blue shirt and pants set with black shoes.

"Unh hunh, that's why I love to visit, just to be in this house," Patti's youngest sister Joy said with a giggle. "This feels better than being in the hospital." Joy was considered the silly sister. She was on the thin side, wearing an off-white dress and sitting in one of the kitchen chairs.

"See, I told you years ago, Joy, that that boy you was dating didn't have no sense. But you wouldn't listen," Marsha, the oldest sister, commented. Marsha was heavy-set and mean. She wore a wide, black, skimpy dress. She kept pulling it down over her hips under the kitchen table.

You need to stop trying to look cute in them tacky-ass outfits you wear, Patti thought to herself of her older sister.

"Look who's talkin," Joy responded to Marsha while slicing a piece of cake. "You ain't got nothin' better than what I got."

"Well, that's only because the nigga left me. But I gots more, honey. "

Patti began to feel uncomfortable, predicting where her sisters' conversation was headed. "Come on now, every time we get together we talk about the same-o-same-o. Now, this is supposed to be my daughter's party, so let's act like it," she told them.

"Aw, girl, listen to you," Marsha snapped. "You gon' get yourself a little college boy with some money, and then gon' tell us not to be jealous. "

"Now hold on, one minute," Patti responded. "Don't start this dumb stuff tonight, Marsha, 'cause I'm sick of it. You can leave my house with all that."

Marsha shook angrily while trying to lift herself from the kitchen chair. "Fine! I ain't gotta stay here for this boring-ass party any-damn-way."

The parents, standing inside of the kitchen and the dining room, began to feel embarrassed. They all appeared as though they weren't listening to the argument, but they were.

"You know what, Marsha? This is it! If you can't show me any respect in my house, then you don't need to come here anymore. There's no reason for you to be acting like this toward me, or the rest of us."

"Fine, sista', you said it," Marsha huffed. She jumped on the phone and called a taxi. She then got her coat and rumbled to the basement door to call her two daughters.

"Trish and Marie, get your things, 'cause we goin' home!"

"No, I'll take them home," Joy interjected. "Ain't no sense in them being punished just because you can't get along."

Marsha looked offended. "Look, dammit, my girls came here with me and they gonna leave with me!"

Copyright © 1993, 1996 by Omar Tyree

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