Tyree's debut is much longer than a YA novel, and far more vulgar, but the subject is pure teen: The ins and outs of dating...

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FLYY GIRL

Tyree's debut is much longer than a YA novel, and far more vulgar, but the subject is pure teen: The ins and outs of dating matched up with a guide to fashion dos and don'ts. The further twist is that it's set in a largely black neighborhood of Philadelphia, where whites exist only as an excuse for some silly Afrocentric theorizing. At the heart of this morality tale is Tracy Ellison, a young gift whose adolescence and teenage years are depicted largely as a monotonous soap opera. The daughter of hardworking parents, Tracy lives in Germantown, a middle-class neighborhood, and does well in school. Her problems stem mainly from boys, and for most of her young life, she's truly boy-crazy. So much so, that this overlong narrative records in dull detail her years of flirting, courting, kissing, and having sex--""a game of choosing and chasing and dumping."" By 13, she's tall, curvaceous, and cunning; she ""had to have whomever she wanted right away."" That includes a wide range of eager young men, from the awkward and fumbling Bruce to the violent thief Timmy. With time, Tracy learns not to give it out without getting things in return, even though her behavior shocks her lifelong neighbor, Raheema, a studious girl who postpones her deflowering. What finally turns Tracy around, though, is the sad example of Raheema's older sister, who has become a crack whore. In this tightly ordered universe, bad living leads to addiction, unwanted pregnancy, jail, or death. Tracy also comes under the influence of some college girls who introduce her to the world of Kente cloth and the Minister Farrakhan. Tyree's shapeless docudrama seems written for an audience he intends to shock--why else would he pause so often (and so awkwardly) to translate slang terms that any watcher of Moesha would know? But for all its immoral behavior, it's a cautionary of the most heavy-handed sort: virtue rewarded; vice punished.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0684835665

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1996