Saturday, April 21, 2012

Tears of a Tiger - Sharon M. Draper

Summary:  In one horrifying night, Andy's life changed forever...

Andy 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, 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.  (Summary from back of the book and image from http://sharondraper.com/)

My Review:  There was so much hype about this book at my school that I'm afraid I was disappointed more than impressed.  I've had this it in my classroom for years, despite having to replace it fairly frequently because it 'walks off' with students who adore the story.  Written in slang without the use of quotation marks (not something I like in books), this book is easily digestible for lower-level readers.  It's a smaller sized book with only 180 pages and this combination gives lower readers a sense of accomplishment: they are able to read a chapter book that's over 100 pages but reads quickly helping them build stamina and fluency. 

As to the meat of the story, Andy is dealing with some serious depression and guilt.  His friends try to help, particularly his girlfriend.  But Andy falls victim to the 'no one understands' mind-set and 'real men don't show vulnerability' which ultimately is his downfall.  The issues are very real, the characters are well developed and believable, and the depiction of teens, their relationships and interactions ring true despite having been written almost 20 years ago.  The overall message is strong: don't drink and drive, don't be afraid to look vulnerable and get help.

It wasn't my favorite read although I see the value of having it in my classroom and offering it to a select students.  Since it is a series, I'll have to see if the books build and become more complex, thus creating building blocks for lower level readers.

Rating: 3 Stars

For the sensitive reader:  One scene of teenage drunk driving that ends in a crash and mentioning of teen sexual intercourse although it doesn't occur--just teenage boy boasting.

Sum it up:  Easy reading, written with strong use of dialect that connects to young readers, dealing with real life issues and teen life.

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