JUST SAY NO! by Omar Tyree


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Tedious, overwritten account of the rise and inevitable fall of an African-American musician.

Beginning in the mental institution where John “Loverboy” Williams is now being held, the narrative slips back to the beginning, when John and Darin first met. Narrator Darin tells of the pity he felt for mamma’s boy John and how he made it his childhood priority to look out for the awkward, studious kid. The two grow up, Darin becomes a popular athlete and John a gifted musician, and both win scholarships to the same college for their respective talents. Here the story veers into the realm of fairy tale. John makes such a hit at the college’s talent show that he’s invited to play at another college for money. His smooth vocal stylings earn him the moniker “Loverboy,” and with his overnight popularity come throngs of women to validate the name. He decides to drop out of college, and Darin, whose dream of playing for the NFL has been ended by an injury, comes along as his manager. They break into the big time presto bismo: John cuts an album, knocks ’em dead on tour, and becomes a national celebrity. By now, of course, he’s also a compulsive womanizer and a drug addict. Darin tries to restrain John’s masochistic urges, but he too gets hooked on easy money and fame. John’s personal life continues to deteriorate—the relationship with his pious mother becomes strained, and he’s thrown by the discovery of the father he never knew, a married man his mother had an affair with—but his music is more popular than ever. He’s a star! Darin, learning the error of his wicked ways, quits managing, gets married, and goes back to college, but he can’t give up trying to save John from himself.Though full of good intentions and some fresh observations about race, Tyree’s (For the Love of Money, 2000, etc.) monotonously detailed prose limits the appeal of this cautionary tale.

Clumsy and predictable.

Pub Date: Aug. 7th, 2001
ISBN: 0-684-87293-5
Page count: 496pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 2001


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