Tyrell & Yummy

Lamond-Riggs Library

Tyrell & Yummy

It had been years since I picked up a YA book, but I jumped at the opportunity.  Instead of sifting through the options to pick out the one closest to Sarah Dessen or Judy Blume (the books of my teen years), I reached for Tyrell by Coe Booth and Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty by G. Neri.  Neither of these books are new, Yummy was published in 2010 and Tyrell in 2007, but they were new to me.  

Yummy is a graphic novel based on the true story of Robert “Yummy” Sandifer who, while involved in a gang shooting in the south side of Chicago, accidently kills his 14-year old classmate Shavon Dean while attempting to aim at someone else.  Yummy was only 11. The story is told through the eyes of a fictional classmate named Roger who struggles to understand how this could happen to one of his peers, and if it could happen to him. Roger grapples with his memory of Yummy as a friendly boy who carried a teddy bear and the reality of Yummy as a murderer and a gang member. Neri, with the help of illustrator Randy DuBurke, beautifully depict the fight of a young boy to escape a dangerous world that is the only one that will accept him. 

Tyrell grapples with similar issues in New York City where Tyrell, 15, his mother and brother are moved into a roach-infested shelter in the Bronx and are forced to survive off nothing.  His father is in jail and can no longer support them, but Tyrell is optimistic.  His mother wants him to sell drugs but he’s a smart kid who knows full well what he should not do to make money.  Booth’s writing welcomes the reader into Tyrell’s day-to-day as he flirts with girls, cares for his mother and brother, and battles every obstacle to create a world where they all can happily thrive. 

Tyrell and Yummy are great reads because of the way they effortlessly envelop the reader in the characters' struggle.  For more books that do this, check out these titles:

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