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.
Tyrell's world is not easy to hear about. A homeless African-American teen in the Bronx, Tyrell's goal is to hold his family together and move his spaced-out mother and seven-year-old brother "home" to the projects. Available money-making ventures, though, also involve brushes with the law, and Tyrell doesn't want to end up in jail like his father: "I don't wanna be the kinda man my pops turned out to be. . . .Nah. I'ma hafta do better than him." Readers listen to Tyrell for just one week, but that is enough to recognize the frustration of his world. "I really wanna put my fist through the wall. . . . I gotta do something. I wanna go somewhere, but I don't got nowhere to go." Born in the Bronx, author Coe Booth continues to live there, and this first novel takes mature readers there, too.
Children's Literature - Jean Boreen
Tyrell's dad is in prison and his mom's fraud conviction--she took advantage of the welfare system--keeps the family from getting a decent apartment. When Tyrell's mom tells him that she expects him to take over as the man of the house and take care of her and Tyrell's younger brother, Troy, Tyrell knows that his options are limited. He also knows that he does not want to deal drugs or do anything illegal that would jeopardize his relationship with his girlfriend, Novisha, a straight-A student who expects a great deal from herself and from Tyrell. When Jasmine, a girl Tyrell's age who has been deserted by her older sister, looks to Tyrell for friendship (and maybe something else), he finds his life becoming complicated almost beyond his control. Determined to make money, he organized a "party" where he will be the DJ and charge people overhead--and then let various acquaintances come in and sell drinks, food, and, possibly drugs. But can Tyrell actually pull the party off and keep himself out of jail? And to what cost to his relationships with Novisha, Jasmine, and his family? A strong novel about a young man who knows that he does not want to follow in his parents' disastrous footsteps.
VOYA - Matthew Weaver
Tyrell Green inherits the literary turf previously walked upon by Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer and J. D. Salinger's Holden Caulfield-adolescence as seen through the eyes of a young male. But Tom and Holden would not last a day in Tyrell's tough, inner-city world. Forced to relocate with a mentally challenged younger brother and his maternally challenged mother, or "my moms" as he refers to her, to a roach-infested shelter, he struggles between his love for virginal Novisha and his sexual attraction for sultry Jasmine. All the while, he makes his way through a world rife with gangs, drugs, and little prospect for a future of any kind, save for the money he might rake in by throwing a huge party in an empty building. Mastery of Tyrell's voice and dialect is the book's greatest accomplishment. Readers are fully immersed in his world, a transition so seamless that the reader never notices before he or she is surrounded. In a lesser author's hands, Tyrell's speech patterns would be distracting, but with Booth it is a natural fit. This tiny epic is a glimpse at a place many readers will never visit, and others will never leave. Everything is captured and held up to the light, not for judgment but to show readers that life like Tyrell's actually happens. Booth's undertaking is a monumental one, and let the record show that she provides the definitive tale of the modern African American urban youth.
KLIATT - Paula Rohrlick
Tyrell lives in a homeless shelter in the Bronx with his mother and his younger brother. His father is in jail, and 15-year-old Tyrell knows he doesn't want to end up there himself, but dangerous temptations abound. His girlfriend Novisha expects a lot from him, and a new girl he meets, Jasmine, wants more than just friendship. Meanwhile, Tyrell just wants to make enough money to get his family into an apartment, and so he comes up with a plan to hold a secret dance party and charge admission, with Tyrell as the D.J. Booth, a Bronx teacher and social worker, clearly knows the world of her inner-city characters; the novel feels absolutely real. The language reflects that (e.g., "that nigga can talk some mad shit when he get started"), and sex, drugs, and violence are here, too. Inner-city teens and those curious about that world will find it memorably depicted here.
School Library Journal
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)
From the Publisher
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 edgein shelters, in projects, on the streetlive, 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 surviveinside 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 contrivancesincluding Tyrell's stumbling upon Novisha's diarybut 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