Friday, February 23, 2007


Booth, Coe. 2006. Tyrell.

I didn't know what to expect with Tyrell. Typically I pick up a book and get an impression of whether I'm going to like it, love it, or hate it. Not that my impressions are ever foolproof. I often prove myself wrong. I like to be suprised. Still, you can't help as a reader judging a book by its cover. Reading the back of the book, reading the flaps, reading other reviews...and compiling a first impression of sorts. I had heard some great things about the book. So I knew I wanted to read it. But I just want to say how impressed I am with this novel. It is a great book. It has done something that few books can do: create multiple characters in a love triangle that are all equally likable and that you can really relate to and understand their point of view.

Tyrell is a young man who has a lot of hard decisions to make. His father is in jail. His mother and his younger brother are depending on him to help them out of their difficult situation. At the moment, they are homeless and depending on the government to place them in shelters or housing. Their current environment couldn't get much worse. They are living in a run-down hotel that is roach-infested. We're not talking a few roaches now and then. We're talking major roach infestion. They're everywhere and in everything. There is no escape. There is no way to make their hotel room any cleaner. Any nicer. Set during the winter, this new placement is supposed to be temporary, but temporary turns into weeks. He has dropped out of school. He is trying to find a way to support his family that is legal--relatively legal--and not dangerous. He has a turbulent relationship with him mom at best because they disagree on so many things. For example, she doesn't care HOW he brings the money home. She would rather her son be a drug dealer or pimp or both instead of having to find a minimum job wage herself. She feels she is too good to do something menial. She also has no problem doing drugs, drinking, and leaving her young son (maybe seven or eight) at home alone for hours or even a day or so. Often, she'll disappear without warning Tyrell first. So he might be out visiting friends thinking his mom and brother are at home....only to return late that night or the next morning to find his brother has been there alone and scared. Tyrell's girlfriend is a big influence on him. She's his reason for living almost. He lives to love and protect her. But when the relationship begins to break down, he finds comfort and friendship with another girl. A girl who understands him. Who knows what it's like to have so much pressure. Who knows what poverty is like. Who knows about hard choices. Who doesn't judge him. Who doesn't preach at him to be different. To be better. Yes, Tyrell's life is all about hard choices.

Depicting multiple relationships (family, friends, love interests), Tyrell is a wonderfully human novel. Very well-written. Very enjoyable. These characters become people you know and care about.

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