Wow. I haven’t read this book since middle school and I cannot believe how much I love it and how much it affects me emotionally. Tears of a Tiger is the first book in the Hazelwood High Trilogy and it comes right out the gate with a bang and it’s unforgettable. It is also Sharon M. Draper’s debut novel.
*Summary: Andrew Jackson was driving the car that crashed one night after a game, killing Robert Washington, his best friend and the captain of the Hazelwood High Tigers. It was late, and they’d been drinking, and now, two months later, Andy can’t stop blaming himself. As he turns away from family, friends, and even his girlfriend, he finds he’s losing the most precious thing of all– his ability to face the future.
Characters. There isn’t a large cast of characters in this novel, as the novel itself is short, however you are able to get enough of them to understand their relationships with Andy to an extent.
Andrew “Andy” Jackson. He is the main protagonist of the novel, he’s seventeen and a basketball player. He is described by other characters to be lively, outgoing, a bit of class clown, charasmatic and he is absolutely devastated by the death of his best friend. He does a complete 180, until he manages to pull a mask on in front of everyone except the reader and his girlfriend Keisha. His character is so emotionally impactful that’s impossible not to feel for him.
Keisha Montgomery. She is Andy’s girlfriend and she is portrayed so strongly in this novel, she hasn’t been dating Andy long but she is so loyal to him, so supportive that even though she has a hard time dealing with his depression she remains because she cares for him and knows he needs her. It’s so prevalent in every conversation they have, in her diary entries and I do think she could possibly split readers’ feelings towards her. She was right in letting go because she couldn’t handle it anymore or she should have stayed with him because she was the only person who really saw him.
Andy’s Family. Andy’s father is pretty distant in his life and Andy often references that. His mother is a woman who seemed like she used to try and be supportive but she’s caught up in her own life that she often forgets her son. Lastly, Monty is the younger brother and their relationship is the strongest in the family. There is a great scene between the two that really shows the impact Andy has on his brother.
The other characters: Tyrone, Gerald, B.J, and Rhonda also have presences in the story. Tyrone and B.J were involved in the crash, they all tried to save Rob but failed and they were also affected but they found solace and peace in a relationship (Tyrone/Rhonda) and faith (B.J). Gerald was also a friend of theirs and he seems very similar to Andy, with a lot of his own problems at home but he deals with it in a different way than Andy which I think is a nice parallel especially as the second novel is Gerald’s story. The parallel is two young black boys who have dealt with tragedy take different paths in dealing with it. It’s quite amazing.