After reading Coe Booth's Tyrell, I know that it will haunt me for some time to come. The characters and the situations that the characters are facing are so real that this book almost reads like nonfiction.
Tyrell is a fifteen year-old African American teen who is trying to keep what's left of his family together. After his father is arrested and put in jail, his mother falls apart and stops paying the rent. Tyrell is forced to figure out ways to provide for himself, his mother, and his younger brother Troy. This is not the first time that Tyrell has had to step up and be the man of the family, but this time he has had to drop out of school and it doesn't look like he's ever going to be able to go back.
To complicate matters, Tyrell's mother was convicted of welfare fraud during a previous bout of homlessness, and the welfare system will not grant them the same level of aid as they'll need to find a place to live and get back on their feet. Because of this situation, Tyrell and his family are forced to accept the only housing that's offered: Temporary shelter at a roach-infested motel in a horrible section of the city.
Fortunately for Tyrell, he is young and creative and he cares about his future. He could easily earn some extra cash selling drugs, but he does not want to end up in prison like his father. Unfortunately for Tyrell, there is not a lot of legal jobs for homeless fifteen year-old black males in the city. Will he manage to find safe shelter for his family? Or, will he give in to the pressures of those around him who assure him that he can make a whole lot more money illegally than legally?
This is a high-interest read for anyone who is interested in inner-city lit. I can tell that the author, Coe Booth has seen some horrible sights in her life because there is no way that this is not at all based on reality. It's well-written and gripping. You will not soon forget Tyrell or his friends and his little brother. These are real people, not characters!