Before writing her 2006 debut novel Tyrell, about a 14-year-old boy in the Bronx, Coe Booth worked with teens in crisis who were involved with gangs, addicted to drugs, experiencing homelessness or facing abuse and neglect. She credits witnessing firsthand the resilience that teenagers possess with inspiring her to tell a story set in her home borough. As the book opens, the eponymous main character is living in a homeless shelter with his mother and little brother. Though he’s still settling into adolescence, Tyrell is forced to make very mature decisions about taking care of his family and to wrestle with the temptations of illegal opportunities, all while navigating the tides of teenage relationships and working to define a future for himself. The striking story, which explores how poverty only exacerbates the intense anxiety of youth, was followed up by a much-anticipated sequel in 2011 called Bronxwood. —Peter Allen Clark

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