Young Adult Lit/Crit

February 11, 2008


Filed under: "Tyrell" — jwill7 @ 5:11 pm

I bought Tyrell and took Feathers out of the library at about the same time. I just let them compete for my attention. Initially I was leaning toward Feathers.  After five or six chapters Tyrell took over.

I’d like to know what people thought of the dialect used in Tyrell. Did it come off as believable or contrived? Furthermore, could it risk being dated? For my part I was shocked by the language in the first couple of chapters. As I read the language became more authentic. Once I got over the ambition of Booth’s voice I realized that it actually wasn’t trying too hard. She demonstrates command and employs vernacular as a method of characterization. There are many things that I love about Tyrell. The narration is mystifying in the respect that you have this account from Tyrell’s point of view but it’s not as if he’s writing it down, he’s jus sayin’. I found it all very captivating, honest and impartial to the morality of the various characters.

Obviously Booth leaves much unwritten in the resolution. Do you (anyone) think that Booth’s next effort should be a continuation of Tyrell? Sarah, don’t you dare suggest Tyrell 2.

See you all on the 14th, oh wait that’s…




  1. Is it possible for everyone to make to to campus by 4:00? Ending class at 6:30 on TH…I’ve got V Day covered (with a treat) but I’m sure some of you would rather spend it with someone other than your 619 prof!! Let me know if we can start at 4? KES

    Comment by sunyprof — February 11, 2008 @ 5:45 pm

  2. 4pm is OK w/ me

    Comment by jwill7 — February 12, 2008 @ 12:05 pm

  3. I’m down with 4.

    Comment by joycehansen — February 12, 2008 @ 12:10 pm

  4. If I leave right after school, I should be able to be there by 4:00!

    Comment by katefrazer — February 12, 2008 @ 5:25 pm

  5. Josh,
    Great comments about Tyrell. I think it is very believeable, if not a little toned down. I’m sure a real NYC teen in Tyrell’s situation might have more “colorful” language. I was at first reluctant to read a book written in such a heavy dialect. After I got started, I couldn’t stop, and the dialect gets easy to read. I think it does date the book, though, and in, say, 75 years it might be difficult to read it. I do not believe that Tyrell was written with the intention of becoming a classic. I think it was written for today’s teens who have to deal with tough stuff, or teens who know teens who deal with tough stuff, or just teens who are interested in tough stuff.
    Ok, I’m rambling. My point is, I think this book works.

    Comment by allison — February 12, 2008 @ 7:43 pm

  6. I agree that this book works but I don’t think the language will become dated easily. Slang always becomes dated, true, but the voice in this novel has an authenticity owed to hearing the rhythm of many decades of urban street talk. Would users for whom this is a first language suggest that I wonder? Interesting question. KES

    Comment by sunyprof — February 12, 2008 @ 7:50 pm

  7. The language of Tyrell was difficult for me at first also. I know in our lit circle last week we discussed how this can really take away from the effects of a novel, and can often be distracting for readers. In this instance, however, I thought that it was truly effective in conveying the voice of the narrator. I really liked the way Allison phrased it: “the book worked”. I agree wholeheartedly, there are several adult situations in this novel but they are realistic for the context of Tyrell’s life. I think this could be a good choice for certain students.
    PS: 4 should be fine depending on the weather.

    Comment by Kari — February 12, 2008 @ 10:11 pm

  8. Of the three texts, Tyrell was my favorite as well, and I think it’s because it is so raw and uncensored. It is very different from what I normally read and I probably wouldn’t have read this, had it not been assigned, but I am so glad that I did. I admired Tyrell’s strength and determination when it came to finding legal work and protecting his brother. I wanted to reach into the text and strangle his mother, a shallow woman, but an important character nonetheless. I was disgusted that Jasmine believed she had no other choice and no other way to support herself other than by submiting to Dante. I was appalled at the condition of the homeless shelter and the cockroaches. It is even worse knowing that people actual live like this. I would love to introduce students who live in suburbia to a text like this and observe their reactions…

    At the NCTE conference this past fall in NYC, I actually heard Coe Booth speak and she read from this text, and I could feel the audience internally gasping at the language and dialect…judging the book before giving it a chance, before seeing if their kids could relate to it… However one woman stood up and said that she had to sneak the book into her classroom because it was banned. It’s a good thing she did because she couldn’t keep it on the shelf. It is infuriating knowing that this text is being censored when kids are watching graphic television shows and using the internet for God knows what. At the same time, I think Tyrell is a strong African American male figure, and perhaps students can learn from his journey, learn how to cope in the face of adversity, or before they venture down the wrong path. But they can’t learn anything from Tyrell if the text is banned.


    Comment by mandygrl101 — February 13, 2008 @ 9:58 pm

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