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“That’s kiddie nightmares. I have grown-up nightmares about chemistry tests and dragon-breathing teachers and bein’ caught in a rich white neighborhood after midnight,” Andy. –Tears of a Tiger
Tears of a Tiger
Hazelwood High Trilogy #1
by Sharon M. Draper
AR Test, Good for Reluctant Readers
After the basketball game, Andy and his friends just wanted to have a little fun. When they pile into Andy’s car and begin drinking beer, they think Andy’s swerving is funny. The fun ends when Andy plows into a wall, killing Rob, Andy’s best friend and the captain of the Hazelwood High Tigers. No one blames Andy for Rob’s death and soon everyone, except Andy, is moving on.
Andy is consumed with guilt. He can’t forget that one horrifying moment or the desperate screams of his friend’s last cries for help. Andy stops doing his school work. He begins acting out, but everyone thinks that Andy is fine – after all, he’s seeing a psychologist. Will Andy be able to move forward or will this one accident claim the futures of not one Tiger, but two?
Andy is consumed by guilt over Rob’s death. Even though he’s in pain, his friends, his family, and his psychologist think he needs to get over the guilt and get on with life. Andy’s psychologist tells him, “the answer is life, Andy, not death.” Andy begins acting out and crying for help. He thinks, “My heart is bloody, and my soul is on ice… Nobody cares.”
Tears of a Tiger tells the heart-wrenching story of Andy and his friends as they deal with Rob’s death. The story unfolds through conversations, English assignments, diary entries, and prayers. While these mediums give a unique perspective, at first the format is confusing. Through various mediums, the readers will come to understand Andy’s guilt, grief, and depression. Even though Andy desperately needs help, no one is there to bolster him up. In the end, the pain of losing Rob causes Andy to commit suicide.
Tears of a Tiger tackles some heavy topics such as death, depression, drinking and driving, as well as racism. The story will resonate with teenagers, especially those who have ever faced a difficult situation. Even though readers will understand the reasons Andy commits suicide, solutions are never discussed, which ends the story with a hopeless tone. The devastation of both Rob’s and Andy’s death will remain with readers for a long time. Tears of a Tiger is an engaging story that will leave readers questioning life and death, and they’ll be wondering if anything could have prevented Andy’s suicide.
- Rob brags that colleges will be, “Knockin’ on my door…to instruct the women in the dorms of the finer points of—shall we say—‘scorin’ and to teach skinny little farm boys what it is, what it is!”
- Andy’s girlfriend calls a friend to ask about Andy. The friend replies, “I bet he’s in the backseat of his car, kissin’ all over some real sexy mama!!”
- Rhonda writes a letter to her best friend saying, “Girl, that Tyrone can really kiss!!!!! Makes me want to stand up and shout Hallelujah!” In another letter, Rhonda writes about Tyrone, “That boy turns me on!”
- When Andy gets out of high school, he plans to “use my lips for kissin’ beautiful women, not the soles of some bald-headed white man’s feet.”
- When Gerald’s English teacher collects a poetry project, Gerald says, “Yeah, just like an English teacher—poetry turns her on.”
- Andy’s brother goes to Andy’s grave and talks to him. “And how am I ever going to figure out girls? Do you know some girl tried to kiss me for my birthday? Gross!”
- Rob was killed in a “fiery automobile accident.” Rob’s feet “stickin’ through the windshield. His legs was cut and bleedin’ really bad.” Rob was “screamin’ and hollerin’, stuck inside.” Rob’s friends tried to get him out of the car, but “The whole car is in flames, and Rob is still stuck inside, and we can hear him screamin’, ‘Andy! Andy! Help me—Help me—Oh God, please don’t let me die like this! Andy!’ He screamed for what seemed like a long time. Then it was real quiet.”
- On the first day of junior high, Andy asked Rob a question. “He slowly put the pick in his back pocket, slowly looked at me, and then proceeded to beat the snot out of me. We’ve been tight ever since.”
- Gerald’s stepdad is abusive. Someone says, “My friend Gerald—his dad beats him—he’s got this big scar on his face from when he had to get stitches when his dad knocked him against a radiator.”
- Andy thinks about jumping off an overpass, but his girlfriend stops him. Afterward, he said, “‘Thanks.’ Then I kissed her real lightly on the lips and went home.”
- Andy kills himself. Andy’s blood soaked through the ceiling, which caused his mother to run to his room. “Mrs. Jackson went to her son’s bedroom where Andrew’s body was found with a fatal gunshot wound to the head.”
Drugs and Alcohol
- Before the basketball game, Andy put four six-packs in the trunk of his car.
- Gerald writes an essay saying he would get rid of five-dollar bills. “With a five-dollar bill, somebody’s stepfather can buy a bottle of whiskey, a nickel bag of pot, or a rock or crack. He smokes it, or drinks it, and goes home and knocks his kids around, or his wife… Andy and the guys bought a six-pack of beer. They ended up buying five dollars worth of death.”
- Andy says that he and his friends would go into stores and bother the white sales clerk because they thought, “we’re all drug dealers.”
- Crap is used three times. After the accident, Andy felt like “a piece of crap.”
- When Keisha finds out about her boyfriend’s accident, she says, “Oh my God, Rhonda, I’ve got to go. I’ll get my mom to drive me to the hospital.”
- After Andy dies, Gerald writes, “You know what really pisses me off? You! You’re a coward and a sellout!”
- After the accident, B.J. prays to God. “Is it my fault that Robbie is dead? I wasn’t drivin’… I don’t sleep at night. I keep seein’ the fire and hearin’ his screams and feelin’ so helpless… Was all this done to teach us kids a lesson?” The prayer is said over two pages.
- B.J. writes a poem praying to “the lord…to send me a lady—someone to love.” The poem is one page.
- Tyron writes a letter saying that “we didn’t’ die in that accident for a reason. B.J. says it’s because the Lord needed Robbie up there and he needed us down here.”
- Keisha writes, “Some people say…that killing yourself is a sin and you’ll go to hell for it because you can never ask for forgiveness for that… I hope God is forgiving. I hope God understands that your heart was good, but your pain was so powerful.”
- B.J. prays and wonders, “Will stupid keep him (Andy) out of Heaven? He never learned the power and hope that comes from Your forgiveness.” The prayer goes on for one and a half pages.