Written by Coe Booth
Grades: 7 and up
Tyrell is 14. Broke, homeless, with a mom who refuses to take care of his little brother and acts like the world owes her a living, Tyrell is under so much pressure, sometimes he feels like he's gonna break for sure.
Tyrell's pops is in jail again, his moms thinks the world owes her a living, and his girl Novisha wants more than he can give. Tyrell, his moms and his little brother Troy got kicked outta their apartment cause his moms refused to look for a job, and they couldn't pay the rent. All she wants to do is party with her friends and rag on Tyrell all the time, blaming him for all their troubles, when it's a clear as the nose on your face that it's really her fault. Now they've stayed in the shelter as long as they can, and they're gonna have to live in Bennett Motel, the worst roach motel in the worst part of the Bronx. Tyrell's worried about Troy, who's only seven, and their moms ignores him most of the time, letting him eat whatever he wants and leaving him to stay alone with the roaches, even though he's only seven.
Tyrell's gotta get some money somehow. The only time he gets real food, not junk food from machines, is when he eats at Novisha's. Her moms always feeds him good, and sends him home with the leftovers for Troy and their moms. But now that he's living at Bennett, he's not just across the parking lot from Novisha, but two train rides and a long walk away, so he can't see her every day, like he used to. And now she's got some guy from her school stalking her, leaving notes in her locker, calling her at home, and saying all kinda things, in spite of the fact that Novisha keeps telling him she already has a man, and is gonna be true to him. So Tyrell worries about her, and Troy, and getting some money, and how he's ever gonna get ahead. Tyrell knows he could hook up with his best friend Cal and sell stuff on the street and make a ton of money. But he can't be doing anything illegal, because if he went to jail, Troy would end up in foster care again, and they've been there, done that, got the scars to prove it. And their moms is way too into herself to keep it from happening again.
But his pops is a mad good DJ, and he taught Ty how to years ago. Ty's almost as good as his pops now, and he has the key to the storage shed with all his pops equipment, and knows a lot of his contacts. Maybe he could get a party together, just for teenagers, with no drugs and no booze, charge admission, and make a bundle, and get them outta that roach motel and into a decent place to live. But on the bad streets of the Bronx, with the hos and the dope and the weed, nothing is ever easy, especially when you want cool and legal. Ty's under a lot of pressure. Will he be able to pull it off, or will he end up in jail on Rykers Island, just like his pops?
This booktalk was written by librarian, university professor, and booktalking expert Joni Richards Bodart.