Young Adult Lit/Crit

February 17, 2008

The Women of TYRELL

Filed under: "Tyrell" — sostrom @ 7:57 pm

Thanks for the nudge to continue posting on books we’ve read, Karen.

We spoke in class about Tyrell’s mother, and while there’s obviously a lot to say about her, I’m interested in what everyone thought of Novisha and Jasmine.  I felt betrayed by Novisha at the end of the book, but up to that point I saw her as smart, caring, focused and ambitious.  I guess she still is these things at the end of the book, but also liar.

Jasmine was more complex and interesting to me because I’ve met so many young women like this.  Girls are sexualized at an increasingly young age, and I think that Jasmine bears the brunt of this.  She plays a role when she promotes Tyrell’s party, but we know she’s got so much more depth to her than that.  She shows Tyrell at least some aspects of her true self, but still manipulates him with her sexuality.  I think Jasmine’s conflicting personalities are such an accurate portrayal of so many young women. 

The thing about Novisha is that she’s going to be okay, but Jasmine… I’m not so sure.  What do you think?



  1. Sarah,
    This is a great conversation. These were very intiguing charactures, for sure.

    First, I must disagree with you about Novisha. I think she can be forgiven for keeping her secret from Tyrell. We never really got her side of the story, or understood why she lied to him, but isn’t it presumable that she had her reasons? She seems a far more admirable character than Tyrell. She stayed faithful when they were together, which is more than can be said for Tyrell. Isn’t it sad that Novisha got taken advantage of at such a young age, when she was at camp?

    I agree that Novisha will be OK, but Jasmine probably will not. Jasmine whores herself out so that she will not get lonely at night. I understand that the foster care system in NYC is less than desirable, but does she need to be such a prostitute? I suppose it’s not my place to say. I’ve never been there. I do see Jasmine as admirable in her pursuit of education, even when it is incredibly difficult.

    Who should Tyrell be with? Neither. These kids are too young for this- confusing relationships are probably the last thing they need. In real life, it seems like kids are getting caught up in relationships too early, which is the topic of my short story for this class. Maybe I’ll share some of it with you all on the blog.


    Comment by allison — February 17, 2008 @ 8:37 pm

  2. One thing that Jasmine has that Novisha lacks, however, is the survival instinct. It is easy to assume that Novisha will be ok due to the great support system that she has in her mother, but does she posess skills needed to really not be taken advantage of in her life? It seems to me that no one can make Jasmine do something that she is not willing to do, regardless of whether it is right or wrong. There always seems to be an end to justify her means. Novisha, however, was “taken advantage” of in Summer camp and was trying to recapture her virginity through her religion. If she had some of the street smarts of the other girls in her neighborhood she might not need to recapture anything to begin with. This is all assumption of course, because like Allison I have never been in a similar situation to these girls, but I don’t really worry that much about whether Jasmine is going to be ok. She is in an awful situation that I would not wish on anybody, but I think she has the street smarts and survival skills to do something with the education she is ensuring that she gets. If only there were a sequel…


    Comment by kariredmond — February 17, 2008 @ 11:59 pm

  3. I would like to see Jasmine make it–but I also see the possibility of her moving into Tyrell’s mother’s role…tired of trying to keep it together and ultimately falling into dependence on a man … if she stays in school maybe not. But that’s no guarantee.

    We can’t underestimate Novisha’s mother’s influence which, combined with Novisha’s own aspirations, may help save her.

    Interesting to bring Jayd into this mix. I really like Jayd! I can see why the DRAMA HIGH books are such hot currency in urban schools. Is anyone planning to read the next one??


    Comment by sunyprof — February 18, 2008 @ 7:37 am

  4. Jasmine and Novisha introduce Tyrell to the types of women Tyrell’s mother is not. I think this explains why Tyrell was conflicted when he first met Jasmine, while still dating Novisha. Novisha has personal standards, limitations and is concerned about Tyrell’s feelings and state-of-mind. Novisha is sensual and sweet, both of which Tyrell does not see in his mother. Jasmine emulates sexuality and passion, in addition to being able to relate and empathize with Tyrell’s experiences at the EAU and grimy motels.

    However, Novisha’s mother influences Novisha’s decisions and actions more than Jasmine, who begins her journey with her sister and no mother present. The absence of a mother figure for Jasmine is similar to that of Tyrell’s. Granted Tyrell travels with his mother, but she only creates more problems, obstacles and stress for Tyrell. Unfortunately, a traumatizing sexual encounter at summer camp prevents Novisha from finding normalcy in her life, though. Jasmine has potential, but the environment that she has been living in could hinder her growth.

    These young women and young man are products of their environment who need perseverance and positive role models, to say the least.


    Comment by jexter1 — February 18, 2008 @ 9:37 am

  5. Karen, I’m glad you brought up Jayd. She is sexualized as well, and is fighting the same fight over her body as Novisha and Jasmine.

    As was mentioned above, Novisha’s mother is a great support system for her. She doesn’t allow Tyrell over when she’s not there; she won’t let Tyrell in Novisha’s room with the door closed; she forces Novisha to wear a long night gown and sleep in her room when Tyrell spends the night.

    I wonder if Jayd’s mom actually raised her, rather than Mama, if Jayd’s fight would be any different?

    Also, to add to the mix, I’d like to bring in Tyrell. He is sexualized at 13 by a prostitute as a “favor” to his dad. Sure, it seems as though he is enjoying his sexualization, but is this just a cover up of a deeply troubled pattern of learned sexual behavior?


    Comment by joycehansen — February 18, 2008 @ 10:25 pm

  6. Amen to both Jessica and Joyce’s comments. I agree. I had forgotten the prostitute episode in TYRELL. This novel seems (also) so much about male codes and rituals to me–being a man and what that means in Tyrell’s world. I think most of us would agree that these codes do not yield positive results or help create happier and productive lives (or life at all) for the men who must live them to survive in urban America. KES

    Comment by sunyprof — February 19, 2008 @ 7:46 am

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