TITLE: Tears of a Tiger
AUTHOR: Sharon M. Draper
PUBLISHER: Simon Pulse
PUBLISHED DATE: February 1, 1996
I finished this book last night, and I honestly don't know where to begin.
Tears of a Tiger is the story of a young man, Andrew Johnson, who becomes unglued when he's in a fatal car accident resulting in the death of his friend. The story is told through various points of views - friends, parents, teachers, siblings...all of whom are affected by the death, but none as much as Andrew.
His behavior reveals that he's not coping well, but as his parents, a therapist, and teachers are unable to help >>>spoiler alert<<< ...Andrew commits suicide.
Even though I knew it was coming...even though the book is devastatingly predictable, and even though I had to encourage myself to finish this book - I was devastated.
This book was written in 1996 when suicides among black youth were kind of rare. But now, in 2016, they're not. According to CNN.com, "The rates of suicide among African-American children have doubled in the last two decades, surpassing the rates among white children, which dropped over the same time period, according to a new study."
This is alarming.
The book, filled with stereotypes, filled with cringe-worthy slang, filled with cliches...nailed it, and highlighted what we could consider today a trend. It attempts to slip in some dime store psychology...signs to look for in a teen who's hurting. Unusual thrill seeking behavior, quiet and withdrawn one minute and loud and abrasive the next. Andrew was seeking help throughout the book, even discussing racial issues with his therapist, and ultimately fell through the cracks. When the book was over I felt a wave of sadness. As a mother of two sons, I hope by the time my sons reach their teenaged years they will find the world to be a more hope filled place.
***(Apparently this book has hit a cord with the teen set... YouTube is filled with student made book trailers for this book. Now...if that doesn't tell you something, I don't know what does)
Recommendation: What the hell...go on ahead. Sharon Draper was onto something twenty years ago. For all it's badness, the book is damn near prophetic.
Audience: Young Adults