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Tears of a Tiger: Summary & Characters

Tears of a Tiger: Summary & Characters
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Danielle Washington

Danielle is a certified English Language Arts educator with 8 years of classroom experience, and has an education specialist degree in curriculum and instruction.

Have you ever made a mistake so big that it was hard to forgive yourself afterwards? If so, then you can relate to Andy, the main character in Sharon Draper's novel 'Tears of a Tiger.' In this lesson, you'll get a summary of the novel and its main characters.

Tears of a Tiger Plot Summary

Tears of a Tiger is a 1994 novel that tells the story of bad teenage decisions and the consequences that follow. The story follows Andy, your typical high school jock, and his group of friends. Andy and his crew, which consists of fellow basketball players B.J., Tyrone, and Robbie, are into all the things that most high school athletes enjoy: sports, parties, and girls. After winning a game one night, the guys decide to go out and celebrate. They grab a few beers and hop into Andy's car. Sadly, this is when things take a turn for the worse.

Although he thinks he is okay to drive, Andy is more drunk than he thinks he is. He crashes into a wall. While Andy, B.J., and Tyrone are able to make it out of the car, Robbie is not as fortunate. His car door is jammed shut, and before the other boys can save him, the car bursts into flames. Robbie dies at the scene.

Everyone is devastated by Robbie's death, but no one more than Andy. He blames himself for Robbie's death because he was behind the wheel. Andy is overwhelmed with guilt. Even though he receives a two-year suspended sentence and must take DUI classes, he doesn't feel his punishment is harsh enough. Coach Ripley, his basketball coach, tries to assure him that he's not to blame, but this is no use. Andy still feels that Robbie's death is all his fault.

Time goes on and Andy starts playing basketball again. He takes Robbie's place as captain of the basketball team and, on the surface, it appears that everything is getting back to normal. But inside, Andy is anything but normal. He can't focus on his schoolwork, he has crazy mood swings, and he often feels like he just wants to die. He relies heavily on his girlfriend Keisha to help him stay sane. While she tries to be supportive, Andy's fragile emotional state often wears her out.

Andy's parents send him to a therapist to help him cope with Robbie's death. The therapist, named Dr. Carrothers, encourages Andy to reach out to Robbie's parents. Andy does this by writing Robbie's parents a letter. They are warm and receptive to Andy, but it still doesn't help him overcome his overwhelming feelings of depression. Andy still wishes he was the one who had died in the car accident. He grows more and more distant from his family, and his parents' repeated absence from his basketball games doesn't help matters. Eventually, Keisha gets tired of Andy's constant depression and mood swings and dumps him.

Feeling he has no one to turn to, Andy stays home from school one day and commits suicide. Andy's family and friends are devastated by this turn of events. They try to understand why Andy didn't reach out for help and some of his friends even call him a coward for taking his own life. They must now try to move forward after yet another tragedy.

Tears of a Tiger Characters

Andy Jackson

Andy is the novel's main character. He starts off as a normal high school basketball player, until one bad decision changes his whole life. He and his buddies decide to drink and drive after a game one night, and as a result, he ends up getting into a car accident that results in the death of his best friend, Robbie. Andy is so devastated by this that he eventually takes his own life.

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