Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) all of my books this week are audiobooks and I neglected to throw a physical book in my backpack. Luckily for me, I work in a room full of books, so I grabbed one that is making the transition between my school library and my home library (for reasons that will be explained later).
So today, we have Tyrell by Coe Booth. I remember meeting Coe Booth back at the ALAN (Assembly on Literature for Adolescents) way back in 2011. It was awesome. I think the cover feature that draws my students to this book is the fact that Tyrell has cornrows, and they think those are cool. So they come for the hair and stay for the fact that Booth tells a compelling and relatable story about a kid who, in the face of adversity, is just trying to take care of himself.
Here’s the beginning for Book Beginnings hosted by Rose City Reader:
When I pick up Novisha from school, she actin’ all weird and shit. I mean, she the one that called my cell this morning and told me we needed to talk. Then all the way to her place it’s like she wanna say something but don’t know how to tell me.
The first response I typically get from this section of the paragraph is, “Miss, there’s cussing in this book!” To which my response is, “Are you mature enough to handle it?” My students are in eighth grade. It’s not like they’ve never heard anyone swear before. I think, though, they sometimes picture books as these buttoned-up type things that wherein the writing is no reflection on real life.
Here’s the Friday 56, hosted by Freda at Freda’s Voice:
I tell Troy to go wash up and brush his teeth ‘cause we gotta spend some time working on all his homework. While he in the bathroom, I try to wake my moms so she can eat some of the food while it’s still hot.
This little bit of text shows us some of the obstacles that Tyrell is facing. He’s taking care of not only a younger brother but his mother as well, who is an alcoholic. I can imagine Tyrell’s sense of obligation to his family, but I wonder how well his own needs are being met.