Teaching Connections: I see this as a good book to use with young African Americans because the main characters in the book are African American kids in high school. The novel is also a very good teaching aide because it includes many different types of writing styles like poems, letters and short essays. I feel the strongest point to using the book in the classroom is the plot which goes into great details about what depression can do to someone and how much of an impact our decisions can make.
Tears of a Tiger starts out with a very dramatic opening which has the reader looking to make sure that the book is not a true story. In the first chapter which is only two pages Draper creates what a newspaper clipping would have looked and sounded like of a horrific accident involving four high school students. After gripping her audience she goes straight to a dialogue between students and what their plans are for after the basketball game. Some of the boys decide to celebrate their win with a couple of “cold ones” after their win which I felt was the decision the book stemmed from.
Of the four players that went into the car only three made it home alive. The book goes into a somewhat gruesome detail of what happened as the three friends were flung from the car and the fourth was burned alive because he was stuck in the windshield. Andy, who is the main character of the story and the driver of the car, placed the blame on himself. The main story of the novel follows the life of Andy and what he goes through in dealing with the death of his closest friend Ron. Andy places the blame on himself because it was his careless action behind the wheel as to why Ron was dead.
Andy throughout the book feels that it should have been himself that was killed in the accident and not Ron because Ron was the one who had everything going for him and was going to get a basketball scholarship to a big time college. This little added concept provides the message to young people that every decision they make can have consequences and some are larger than others. Another message sent by Draper in the beginning plot is for students not to think “it can’t happen to me” because those five words reverberated several times in the beginning of the book.
While the others in the accident are dealing with the loss of their friend, Andy seems to go into depression after the accident. Andy has a girlfriend during this time and she is the only one that he truly trusts. He also was prescribed to go see a psychologist. What is interesting is Andy is seen as coping with the trauma very well by his peers. In fact he was the master ceremonies at the school’s talent show. Some of the struggles Andy goes through involve the struggles with his parents, himself, school, and friends. Andy feels that nobody really understands him and that leads to his unraveling.
Andy starts to also feel that nothing he does will matter because of what has happened which only worsens his depression. Even with the dark chapters there are chapters of light throughout the book where things are turning around for Andy. Draper includes dialogues and texts from different characters to ease some of the tension accumulating. I happened to love this book and invite everyone to read it because even if the message seems to be dark and depressing the reality is that everyone will probably go through tough times at one point in life and its how you turn out that matters most to everyone around.