Tears of a Tiger Summary
After Andy and his buddies win their high school basketball game, they go out to celebrate… by grabbing a couple of beers. This is when Andy crashes the car into a wall—and while B.J., Tyrone, and Andy all make it out, their buddy Robbie doesn't. He wakes up just in time to feel the car burst into flames, and he yells out for his friends to help him, but they can't since the door is jammed. Yikes.
Since the accident, Andy's felt guilty because he was the one driving. Even though he got a two-year suspended sentence and has to take a couple of DUI classes, Andy doesn't feel like he's actually been punished for what he did. He blames himself for Robbie's death. He talks to his coach about it, and he tells him that Robbie wouldn't have blamed him, but this doesn't help much; Andy is still haunted by his guilt.
Pretty soon, Andy starts playing basketball again. Now that Robbie isn't on the team anymore, Andy takes his place as team captain. Everyone starts to get back to the way things were before the accident—well, everyone except Andy, that is. He can't wrap his head around his school work anymore, and he doesn't care if he lives or dies.
One day while he's out with his girlfriend Keisha, he almost jumps into incoming traffic until she stops him. She's his rock, and he's not sure what he would do without her. Andy's parents send him to a therapist, who tells Andy it's normal to feel super depressed after something traumatic, and encourages him to reach out to Robbie's parents. Reluctantly, Andy writes a letter to them remembering all the good times he had with Rob. Rob's mom is totally touched by the letter and tells Andy she'll never forget it.
It's a sweet reaction, but Andy wishes he died in the car accident instead of Rob. His parents don't care enough to come to his games the way Robbie's do—they're always supportive, no matter what—plus Keisha gets sick of Andy's bellyaching and dumps him. It's clear she cares a lot about him, but she just can't stand his mood swings all the time. Feeling like he has nowhere else to turn, Andy stays home from school and commits suicide.
When Andy's friends learn about his death, they're heartbroken. It's one thing to lose Robbie in an accident, but at least no one meant for that to happen. Andy's death, however, was on purpose. Some of his posse calls him a coward; others wish he had reached out for help; Keisha can't believe he's gone. His little brother, Monty, visits his grave and tells him that now he knows it's okay to cry, even though he wants to be big and tough like Andy.
Crash, Fire, Pain
- The car crash makes the newspaper. It tells us who died (Robert Washington) and who was with him in the car (Andrew, B.J., and Tyrone).
- Plus, we learn that they were drinking—something that never goes well with driving.
- We also learn from the newspaper article that Andrew tried to save his buddy, but the gas tank exploded and there was nothing he could do.
Hit the Showers! Hit the Streets!
- The day before the newspaper article, Andy and Rob hang out in the locker room after their basketball game.
- They've just won and are still on a high from playing well. There's the usual banter between friends, with some friendly ribbing about girls and how many baskets they each made.
- Andy's girl, Keisha, was at the game that night, and Rob mocks Andy for being whipped. Oh, snap.
- They decide to go out to celebrate that night—Rob's already stashed some cold beers in the back of Andy's car.
- Gerald comes in and they ask if he wants to join, but he says he has to get home because: parents.
- Oh well. At least Tyrone and B.J. can go, so it'll be a good time.
- They agree not to let Keisha in on the fact that they're going drinking because she'll totally throw a fit. As far as they're all concerned, she needs to simmer down.
Oh No! It Just Can't Be!
- Over a Keisha's house, Rhonda calls and tells her there was a car accident—she's not sure if anyone they know was in it, but she heard it might be the b-ball players.
- Keisha worries because Andy was supposed to show up an hour ago, but he still hasn't.
- She decides to call Gerald to see if he's heard anything. He hasn't.
- When Keisha calls Rhonda back to fill her in on calling Gerald, Rhonda tells her that it was a red Chevette that crashed… Isn't that what Andy drives?
- Now Keisha is really worried. She goes to the hospital and finds out Robbie is dead.
- The other guys are okay, but she can't talk to Andy yet. When she sees him through the window, though, his eyes look weird. Keisha figures he must still be in shock.
Memories of Fire
- Officer Casey pays Tyrone a visit to get his version of what went down before the accident.
- Tyrone explains they were out celebrating the win that night, and Gerald was going to come, too, except his stepfather beats him so he isn't really allowed to go out. Whoops… he wasn't supposed to admit that.
- Anyway, so Andy was driving and they were all drinking and fooling around. All except B.J., since he never drinks.
- Everything was funny to them, even stuff that normally isn't laugh-out-loud-hilarious. Guess that's the alcohol talking.
- The car started swaying a bit and people were honking at them, but even that was funny somehow.
- Then, out of nowhere, there was a wall, and—boom—the car slammed into it.
- First Tyrone helped Andy out of the front seat; he was bleeding and having a hard time breathing, but he was okay. B.J. got out of the car, too.
- And then they heard Robbie screaming. They tried to help him out, but his door was stuck, so Andy and B.J. climbed on top of the hood and started getting debris out of the way so they could get Robbie out.
- Bam: An explosion knocked them off the car and started a fire inside.
- The boys heard Robbie yelling for help, but there was nothing they could do.
- Tyrone remembers that there was screaming for a long time, and then silence.
- B.J. says a prayer, admitting his guilt over what happened the night of the accident.
- He's too short to be on the basketball team, so when the players invite him out, he gets super excited to be included as one of the guys.
- He feels badly, though, that Robbie died and he didn't. His mom keeps saying "praise the Lord" and stuff like that, but B.J. can't help wondering what Robbie's mom is saying.
- He feels bad that he wasn't drinking and didn't say anything to Andy about driving drunk.
- B.J. hates the taste of beer, but what he tells the guys is that it stunts growth—and since he's already so short, they don't bother him about it.
- He wonders whether he should have stepped in that night and told Andy not to drive; he worries that Andy and the cool guys wouldn't want to hang out with him for doing something like that, though.
- B.J. decides to go to church with his mom on Sunday to be a better person.
"My Most Frightening Moment"
- In an English essay, Rhonda describes the day after the accident.
- The assignment is to write about your most frightening moment, and the accident was certainly hers, even though she wasn't even there.
- Why? That's when she learned kids her age could actually die; before this, she hadn't really understood this.
- Everyone was crying at school—students and teachers—but not Rhonda. She felt sick inside. Plus, she's not sure it does any good to cry now since Robbie's already dead.
- We get a glimpse of the school's newspaper, The Hazelwood Herald: There's an article about Robbie dying, and something about a canned food drive on campus.
- At the bottom, there's a note about drinking and driving. Every eighteen minutes, someone is killed in a drunk-driving accident.
- The newspaper also tells us that the basketball coach appointed Andy as the new team captain, since Robbie is now gone.
- Coach Ripley is also the teacher of the week—he's popular with the athletes and always ready to listen to the students.
"Hey, Coach! Can We Talk?"
- Andy and Coach Ripley catch up on Andy's first day back at school; it's been rough for him what with dealing with all his emotions and guilt.
- His coach tells him not to sweat it, though, assuring him that feeling ups and downs is a huge part of recovering from a trauma like this.
- Coach Ripley asks Andy about how he met Robbie.
- The guys go way back. Andy first saw Robbie combing his hair with a fancy pick and mocked it, so Robbie punched him, and they've been best friends ever since.
- The guys are close with Tyrone and B.J., too, even though B.J.'s never made the basketball team (despite trying out every single year).
- Andy tells Coach that B.J.'s the one with the real courage—it was his idea to jump on the hood and try to save Robbie.
- Coach Ripley points out that Andy did everything he could and helped the other boys. There's nothing he could have done to save Robbie.
- Even though Andy's heard this before, he still feels majorly guilty. They shouldn't have been drinking—they knew better—but somehow, they didn't think it would cause an accident for them.
- We learn what's happened in the two weeks since the accident: Andy was charged with DUI (a.k.a. driving under the influence) and vehicular manslaughter.
- The judge went easy on him, though, because of his age, so while his license got suspended until he turns twenty-one and he has to take a drinking and driving class, he won't go to jail or anything.
- A bunch of Andy's classmates and the coach came out to support him the night of the verdict.
- This meant a lot of Andy, but he's still not sure the sentence is fair. He thinks it's too easy. Why should he get off when his best friend died?
- Coach Ripley points out that the judge knows Andy is suffering and gave a sentence he thought was fair.
- The doc cleared Andy to play b-ball again, but the coach wants to know if he's ready.
- They agree that Robbie would have wanted them to play the game, so Andy says he'll be at practice tomorrow.
Sad Songs, Juicy Gossip
- In a letter to her friend Saundra in California, Rhonda explains that she can't call anymore since it's long distance.
- Last month, her dad freaked out last time he got the phone bill. Ugh—parents.
- Rhonda tells her friend about the accident, and shares that since that night, she and Tyrone have been hanging out (wink, wink).
- She guesses he likes having her around to talk to about everything that's happened. It doesn't hurt that he's hot either.
- Keisha asked Rhonda to say hi to Saundra, so she does, and then Rhonda explains that Keisha and Andy are still together, but he's been a pill since the accident. He's always so mopey and down.
- Of course Keisha gets it, but she also tells Rhonda that she's annoyed sometimes since Andy is so moody.
"If I Could Change the World"
- Gerald writes an essay for English class about what he would do to change the word.
- At the top of his list? Getting rid of five-dollar bills, peanut butter, and Band-Aids. Um, okay…
- Let's start with the peanut butter: When he was a little kid, his mom would always make him peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but now that she's gone, the peanut butter doesn't seem so good anymore.
- Next up? The Band-Aids. This might seem like a weird one, but when Gerald explains that it's because they only come in "skin color"—and this looks nothing like his skin—it makes sense.
- (And remember: He's the one whose stepdad beats him, so he's covering up cuts and bruises with Band-Aids that stand out against his darker skin all the time.)
- Finally, he'd stop five-dollar bills, because that's what his stepdad uses to get high or drunk, right before he smacks Gerald around.
- Plus, Andy and Robbie got the beers with a five-dollar bill, so from where Gerald's sitting, they're always trouble.
Hoops and Dunks
- At the basketball game, Coach Ripley asks the guys where Andy is. They say he already left his house and is taking the bus (since he's not allowed to drive any more).
- They also tell coach that Andy's been edgy and moody lately—they try to talk to him, but he just wants to keep to himself.
- Fast-forward to the game, and Andy is there, playing well. Make that really well. He dunks and even makes a three-pointer to win the game.
- Everyone is yelling and cheering him on. After the game, Tyrone offers Andy a ride, but he decides to wait for his dad.
- Coach Ripley tells Andy he played a great game. Andy knows neither of his parents bothered to show up to it. His dad always comes up with some excuse, and his mom, well… she finds basketball too noisy.
- Rob's parents, however, always came to the game—even tonight they were there to support the team. Andy tells his coach he wishes he were dead instead of Robbie.
- Ripley tells him not to think that way. Andy's holding the whole team together now, so he can't talk like that. Then Coach gives Andy a ride home.
How Do I Feel?
- It's been a month since the accident, and Andy's parents decide to send him to a psychologist—he has to work through his anger and guilt, after all, and they certainly don't want to help him through it.
- Andy's not sure what to think. He doesn't trust some shrink to poke around inside his head, but then again, the guy is black (like Andy) and seems legit, so he agrees to give it a shot.
- He tells the doc that he's down in the dumps, but everything is fine; he's not sure why his parents sent him in the first place.
- Okay, okay, the shrink gets it, but he still wants to hear what's going on to make Andy depressed in the first place.
- Andy reports that it's his fault Robbie died. He was drinking and driving, and he shouldn't have been doing that.
- The doc asks if Andy thinks Rob would blame him. Hmm… probably not, since Rob was really low key and laid back. But Andy still blames himself.
- Most of Andy's friends have been pretty cool about it, and he knows he can always talk to Coach Ripley. But he still blames himself.
- Andy admits that there are a lot of things his parents don't know about him—they pretend to know him, but really they don't. He and his parents just don't get each other.
- Plus his mom still calls black people "negro" and won't change even though they are black. This bugs Andy. And his dad is no better. He's an active Republican and always kissing up to white people at his job.
- Then there's Andy's little brother, Monty. He's the only one in his family who is halfway cool, but Andy hates how Monty only liked blonde girls.
- The shrink asks Andy about basketball. Andy says he feels guilty since he's center now, which was Rob's position. Rob was way better than Andy, so he knows he'd never have gotten the position with Rob on the team. This makes him feel like he didn't really earn it.
- At the end of the session, Andy decides the whole thing wasn't so bad; he agrees to see the doc again.
- After school, Andy catches up with Keisha and tells her she looks pretty in her dress.
- She's surprised he noticed her clothes, and when she asks him why he's in a good mood, he reports that he feels like he can breathe now. Finally.
- He suggests they go to the mall and see a movie, but she reminds him they have a chemistry test tomorrow.
- She wants to hang out, but she has to study, and he should, too.
- All of a sudden, Andy blows up at Keisha, telling her he didn't really want to hang out with her anyway.
- She gets annoyed and tells him to stop acting so weird all the time. She can't help it if she has to study for a test.
- In the hall in between classes, Gerald asks Andy if he's ready for the history test they have that day.
- Wait… there's a history test? Andy had no clue, which means he hasn't studied. Worse? He doesn't even have his book on him. Oops.
- It turns out Andy didn't do the English homework either. Man, he's way behind in every class. As long as he gets a D, though, he'll be fine—or so his thinking goes, anyway.
- Then Andy learns his teacher will be handing out midterm notices today, and he knows he'll get one. He bombed that thing.
- Ugh. He goes off to class, unprepared and depressed.
- Back at the psychologist's office, Andy tells the doc that his grades are slipping big time at school.
- His parents yell at him and want him to think about college, but he doesn't really care—he's lost his motivation in a pretty major way after everything that's happened.
- Andy admits that he doesn't have it as bad as his buddy Gerald, though, whose dad hits him, but his parents still don't get him either.
- The shrink points out that Andy should talk to his parents about his feelings, but then again, of course he'd say that since he's a shrink.
- Andy knows that all his parents do is lecture him all the time—they never actually talk to him, just yell.
- His shrink asks if there anyone at school that Andy can talk to, like a counselor, and Andy says there is—he even went once and talked about graduation requirements, but when he said he wanted to go into law, the counselor thought it was a bad idea and suggested Andy teach gym instead.
- Andy thinks it's because he's black. He knows that's why teachers don't call on him in class, or are surprised when he does well on a test of something.
- He's sick of them expecting him to fail all the time—they don't treat the white kids like that.
- Andy admits that he only cares about grades to get his parents off his back, but he feels like when he tries to do well in school, no one takes him seriously.
- The doc says they should get together after Christmas and talk about how the holidays were.
- Andy agrees, especially because he has to go anyway to meet up with Keisha at the mall and go Christmas shopping.
- Keisha writes about her shopping trip to the mall with Andy. At first it was great: They looked around and she found a perfume she likes, then they grabbed a bite to eat.
- Everything was going well until they saw Santa and Andy said it reminded him of Rob. Huh?
- Keisha doesn't get how an old, white guy can remind Andy of a young, black kid, and it makes her annoyed; it's like he's reminded of Rob everywhere they go.
- So then Andy got all moody and this upset Keisha.
- Then she wonders what he got her for Christmas. She hopes it's that perfume she's had her eye on—after all, she spent a bunch of money on a sweater for him.
"How Am I Supposed to Write Poetry?"
- Andy's supposed to write a poem for English class, so he tries it out.
- The only problem is, he has way more on his mind than schoolwork.
- His poem is about being in the darkness when everyone else is in the light—even though people are cheerful around him, he's down in the dumps.
- Check out the last line of the poem: "I don't think I'm going to last." Dark, right?
- The teacher tells them to pass up their poetry and says she's looking forward to reading them over Christmas break. The students mock her for liking poetry so much.
- When everyone else passes their papers up, though, Andy keeps a hold of his. He doesn't want anyone to see it.
- He knows this will hurt his ever-falling grade, but he doesn't care all that much. All he really cares about is Keisha, and he's hanging out with her tonight.
- We get to read a couple other poems at the end of the chapter about love (Rhonda's), pain (Keisha's), prayer (B.J.'s), and music (Gerald's). Go team.
Christmas Without Rob
- Back at the psychologist's office, the doc asks Andy about his Christmas vacation.
- Andy shares that Christmas was rough because he usually did a bunch of fun stuff with Rob during this time, so he was super reminded of how much he misses his friend.
- He and Rob would go to department stores to look around and bug all the salespeople. According to Andy, the salesgirls would get on edge because they thought Andy and Robbie might steal stuff because of their race.
- They wouldn't, of course, but Andy and Rob had a fun time walking around the expensive sections anyway, just to freak everyone in the store out.
- When the psychologist asks Andy how that made him feel, he reports that it felt pretty terrible. Sure, they would laugh about it and turn it into a game, but in reality, it's no fun having people make assumptions about you.
- The guys would also ask where the black Santa was, and then get in trouble—this is why Andy thinks about Rob any time he sees Santa or anything Christmas-y.
- He feels badly about getting depressed when he was out with Keisha, but he knows she's cool about it.
- Then the psychologist asks about his girl. How are things going with Keisha? What would happen if she weren't there anymore?
- Andy hadn't really thought about that. He depends on Keisha more than anyone else to get him through his ups and downs; she's the only one who lets him vent and doesn't tell him to get over it (like his parents do).
- Andy thinks about how it was with her over the holiday and tells the doc that on Christmas, he managed to have a pretty normal day—to start with, anyway. He and his family were hanging out, trading gifts, and then Keisha came over. Everything was great.
- And then Robbie's mom called. She always calls Andy on Christmas and jokes with him that Santa won't bring him anything if he was bad, that all he'll get is a rock.
- And then, in the past, Andy would tell her he'd been good that year and she'd give him his real presents.
- This year, though, Andy got really sad when she called, and they didn't do their usual inside joke about gifts.
- This wound up ruining his Christmas because it reminded him of all his fun times with Rob.
"Good Morning, Hazelwood"
- On the first day back after winter break, there's a school announcement to the students about a pizza party for the class who brought the most cans to the food drive.
- SAT scores are now in, so students should head to the counseling office to pick those up.
- A talent show is coming up for students, and try outs begin next week.
- Finally, the announcement tells us that the guy's basketball team won last Friday after Andy and Tyrone each scored a bunch of points.
- Looks like things are getting back to normal, right?
Black on White
- Keisha calls Andy to tell him that it snowed last night. She's excited about how pretty it is, but Andy sulks because he'll get wet toes walking around in it.
- Keisha gets annoyed with how upset little things like this make Andy, and she tells him he complains too much about the little things.
- In English class, they read the poem "One Thousand Nine Hundred & Sixty-Eight Winters" by Jaci Earle.
- Andy notices that the poem uses black and white as symbols, so he asks his teacher why black is always bad in literature and white is always good.
- His English teacher thinks this is a great question, and asks the class to come up with examples of other colors that are used in literature.
- See? Colors help us form images in our minds—if someone says "icy blue" or "purple passion" it's more poetic and meaningful than saying it without the colors. It helps the author get the point across.
- Race is totally invoked, too, though, and while this is changing somewhat now, racist ideas are at play in some older books.
- Hmm… this makes Andy think, but he doesn't share what with us.
- Later, he talks to Keisha about how cold it is that day and asks if she thinks Robbie is freezing outside, in the ground.
- Keisha tells Andy not to say such morbid stuff any more—Robbie is at peace; leave it be.
Accepting Fear—Escaping Pain
- Andy tells the psychologist that sometimes he doesn't even want to get out of bed; he feels like he's carrying a big weight around and it gets too heavy.
- The doc understands. He wants to know if Andy has seen or heard from Robbie's parents lately. Then he suggests that Andy writes them a letter, telling them how he feels.
- Andy's not so sure this is a good plan—he doesn't want to give them more reason to hate him—but the doc insists. It could be good for Andy to write some of his feelings down and let someone else in on his world.
- Andy agrees to think about it. Then he tells the doc a story about going on a long walk with Keisha the other day.
- They went by where the accident happened, and Andy couldn't believe how little the wall was. That night, when he was drinking, it seemed huge, but it was only about four feet. Isn't that weird?
- He kept looking below and seeing the cars pass under the overpass. He got really close to the edge and started thinking about jumping off. What would happen if he did?
- Before he could do it, Keisha stopped him. He thanked her and kissed her, and then they went home.
- The doc asks him if he wants to die, and Andy isn't sure. Right after the accident, he thought about it a lot, but now he doesn't know—when he talks about death, people get all squirmy.
- Andy admits that being dead seems like the only way he'll ever feel alive again. He doesn't really feel alive now. He's just going through the motions.
- The doc gets it. He thinks it might be good for Andy to write that note to Robbie's parents. He can share some of his memories of Robbie and work through them in the process.
- He also reminds Andy that he'll answer the phone—day or night—if Andy ever needs to talk. He tells Andy not to worry about the time, and to just call if he feels suicidal, no matter what.
Night and Dreams
- Andy says goodnight to his bro, and Monty asks him to leave the light on.
- It's not that he's afraid of the dark, but that he wants to be able to see stuff that's happening.
- Uh, how can he see while he's asleep, his bro asks?
- Then Monty asks Andy if he dreams in color or black and white. Andy's not sure, but Monty knows he dreams in color.
- Andy thinks black people dream in color, but white people only dream in black and white—that's why dreams are always black and white in the movies.
- Monty asks if Andy ever has nightmares, and Andy admits that he does, even though he's seventeen.
- They say goodnight and then Andy calls Keisha. He tells her that Monty's future is so bright, but he doesn't know if he has one; all he sees is darkness when he thinks about the future.
- Keisha doesn't make fun of him, and Andy really digs that. He tells her that she's a good listener, then they hang up and fall asleep.
- That night, Andy dreams he sees Rob and he's really cold. He's bored in heaven and wants to play some hoops.
- Rob tells him that it's Andy's fault that he's dead, and Andy feels guilty and tells his friend that he didn't mean to.
- Just then, Monty wakes Andy up and asks if he's okay—he was screaming. Andy says he'll be fine and tells Monty goodnight again.
A Letter of Remembered Joy
- Andy takes his psychologist's advice and writes a letter to Robbie's parents. He wishes he could say sorry enough times to make a difference, but he knows he can't; nothing can change what happened that night.
- Instead of just apologizing (again), Andy writes down some fun memories that he has about Robbie.
- Like going for ice cream after b-ball practice, even though Robbie's mom would say she wasn't going to stop for it, or playing basketball with socks in Rob's bedroom and going to the dance with their dates in Robbie's family station wagon.
- There's also the time they went backward through the drive through at McDonalds, and the time they both got chicken pox.
- Basically, Andy just wants Robbie's parents to know how much he misses their son, and to share with them some of the good times they had together.
- These memories will never fade, no matter what.
"Out, Out! Brief Candle!"
- In English class, the teacher asks the students what they thought about Macbeth, since that's what they've been reading together.
- The students ask if Macbeth dies at the end, but the teach points out that he's dying inside already; he has nothing left to live for.
- One of the students thinks he deserves to die. Why's that? Well, he killed his best friend, the king, and some kids.
- The teacher responds by asking if Macbeth's wife deserves to die, too.
- The class is divided on this one: Some students think she was pretty cool, but since she commits suicide they don't feel that sorry for her anymore—someone calls this cowardly.
- They read a passage together from Act 5, and they figure it's about the fact that life doesn't mean much anyway.
- At this, Andy gets up and runs from the room.
Baloney Sandwiches and Bad Breath
- At lunch, Tyrone and B.J. ask Andy to sit with them. They're all chatting when one of them brings up something about Rob.
- Andy flips out: Why do they always talk about him? He's dead; move on. Then Andy leaves.
- Tyrone and B.J. are confused—they were just remembering how Rob wanted to date that exchange student from Hong Kong.
- They begin to worry about Andy. It's like he's getting worse, not better.
- So they head on over to the counselor's office. Neither of them like her very much, but they know Andy needs some help.
- They tell her how he ran out of the class during Macbeth and that they're worried about him.
- She tells them not to worry—he's seeing an outside therapist and that should be enough to help him.
- She thinks they're good friends for worrying about Andy, but he's fine. Really.
Learning to Live
- Andy tells the psychologist that he mailed the letter to Rob's parents; he didn't have the nerve to give it to them in person, but he wanted them to have it.
- Rob's mom came by Andy's house and gave him a big hug afterward. She said she loved the letter and she forgives him—she knows he'd never purposely hurt Rob.
- Rob's dad didn't come over, but he forgives Andy, too. He's having a harder time with it, but he'll get there.
- The doc asks if Andy is still having any bad dreams, and he says no, and then explains that while he still feels guilty, he's learning to live with it.
- Even though Andy still has some issues to work through, his doc thinks it's okay to stop therapy, so long as Andy comes back if he starts feeling bad again.
- Plus, Andy knows he can call the doc anytime, day or night.
The Importance of Friendship
- Keisha writes an English essay on the importance of friendship.
- In it, she says that friends are really what high school is all about—not, say, learning or teachers.
- Plus, friends are fun and exciting. Whenever you're bored, if you hang out with a friend, time flies by.
- She knows she can count on her friends. They make the tough times easier, and when Rob died, she was happy to have friends to rely on.
- Andy had a bunch of friends who would help him through anything, she points out.
Concern and Denial
- Andy's English teacher, Ms. Blackwell, calls his dad at home one night to talk about Andy.
- He's missed a bunch of homework assignments, his grades are slipping, and he's not motivated anymore.
- Andy's dad knows this isn't good. He expects more from his son, but he's not sure what to do.
- Ms. Blackwell thinks this up to the parents—after all, she doesn't know Andy as well as they do.
- And it's not just his grades that are off; he's acting out and causing problems in class lately.
- Andy's dad points out that one of the counselors told Andy he couldn't be pre-law, and Ms. Blackwell feels badly about this—he's not exactly winning any points, though, with how he's behaving lately.
- Plus, Andy is a mess emotionally. He seems out of it. Ms. Blackwell asks if his parents are concerned.
- Andy's dad brushes it off, though, saying this is just because he's a high school kid. He promises to talk to Andy about getting his grade up.
Lions, Tigers, and Dinosaurs
- Monty is coloring a picture for homework while talking to Andy, who says he wishes his homework were that easy.
- Andy notices that everyone in the picture has yellow hair. Why? Monty explains that this is the prettiest color.
- Andy tries to get Monty to see that black hair is pretty, too, but Monty doesn't buy it.
- Then Monty asks Andy if tigers cry—last week he drew a picture of a tiger crying, because he wanted it to be sad, like Andy.
- Andy's not sure if tigers cry, but he doesn't see why it can't have tears in a drawing.
- When Monty asks Andy to take him to the museum to see the dinosaurs, Andy reminds him he can't drive anymore.
- Monty asks if he can't drive because he was "bad," and Andy says yes.
- Two teachers swap stories about their students and Andy's name comes up.
- They know he's not a bad kid, but he's acting out lately and they're not sure what to do with him anymore.
- His psychologist gave him a clean bill of health, but one of the teachers doesn't think this is true. Watching your best friend die in a car you were driving and crashed? That's not something you just get over in a of couple months.
- The other teacher agrees but also points out that black kids have to deal with more than white kids, so they're tougher.
- The other teacher agrees, and then they talk about how students are performing to rap music at the talent show, which bugs them.
Needs and Worries
- Keisha writes in her diary that the last five months have been the toughest of her life. This is how long she's been with Andy, and it's been rough.
- Last week they were playing Ping-Pong and Keisha was teasing Andy when he got all choked up and said stuff gets to him now.
- She's getting sick of him being depressed. She knows it's hard to get over, but she feels like all Andy does is complain now.
- He never wants to do anything else, plus he makes a bunch of morbid comments, like asking if Rob is cold and stuff like that.
- Keisha's not sure she wants to be with Andy anymore, but she knows he needs her and she's worried about what will happen if she dumps him.
"Do You? Do You?"
- Rhonda writes a letter to Tyrone asking him about something he said the night before: that he loves her.
- She's not sure if he meant it, or if he just said it to be nice—she worries about loving him, because she doesn't want to get hurt.
- Worse? She thinks she already loves him, but she's afraid to say it.
- So, does he really love her, or was he just saying that?
- This letter is short and sweet. It's from Tyrone to Rhonda.
- It has one word: YES.
- (Translation: He loves her.)
Public Pressure, Private Pain
- At the school talent show, Andy gets up to perform and starts cracking dirty jokes and taking off his clothes.
- Keisha and Rhonda can't believe he's stripping on stage, and neither can the teachers, who start rushing to the stage to get him to stop.
- Everyone is cracking up. Well, everyone except Keisha—she doesn't find it funny at all.
- When Andy gets off stage, he and Keisha get in a fight. She doesn't even stay to perform her song.
- Andy's mom asks him how the talent show was, but he says not sure why she cares, since she never cares about anything in his life.
- His mom is a little hurt. Why would he say that?
- Andy says sorry. He just got in a fight with Keisha and is on edge, but his mom tells him she hopes things work out—she's noticed Keisha has been really supportive over the past few months.
- Yep, and now he's lost her. Life is just perfect.
- Andy's mom tells him to stop dwelling on the "unfortunate incident" (read: car accident) and get on with his life.
- That's it—Andy snaps. Why does she call it that? Why doesn't she get that it changed his life?
- Andy's mom says she didn't mean to get him upset. She calls it that because it's a sad thing and she doesn't want to deal with the pain.
- They talk about when they used to go on vacation in South Carolina—one time Andy's mom even went swimming and messed up her hair. This is the only time she didn't look perfect, Andy points out.
- He tells her about playing with a young boy up there and sneaking out of the cabin to go swimming.
- One night, he was under water and couldn't see; he tried to scream, but his lungs filled with water instead of air. The kid saved him from drowning and made him promise not to tell anyone.
- Andy says this is how he feels now: He can't breathe and he's not sure which way is up.
- His mom says that it will get better with time. He survived almost drowning as a kid, and he'll survive this, too. Her headache is getting worse so she says goodnight.
- Andy's not so sure he will survive this.
"Girl, Let Me Tell You!"
- Rhonda writes to her friend Saundra that Andy and Keisha broke up.
- At the talent show, they started fighting, and Keisha didn't even bother singing the Whitney Houston song that she'd prepared for him.
- It was supposed to be a nice surprise, since he'd been moody lately, but she didn't even perform because she was too mad at him.
- Later, Keisha told Rhonda that she's so sick of holding his hand through everything. She gets that he needs help, but she feels like it's unfair for her to be the only one who helps him.
- Rhonda signs off by saying things are great between her and Tyrone.
- Andy runs into his coach and they catch up. They haven't seen each other since the b-ball season ended, and Coach Ripley wants to know how Andy is doing.
- Andy lies and says things are great—he and Keisha have never been better and his grades are up.
- Coach Ripley is happy to hear that, because Andy was pretty low last time they saw each other.
- He mentions that scouts from Ohio and Michigan State want to meet Andy, but he wasn't in school the day they came up.
- Andy's annoyed when he learns that coach even called his house—Andy never got the message, and he's ticked off at his dad for keeping this from him.
- Then Andy thinks to himself that he doesn't need basketball or Keisha or his dad for that matter. He doesn't need anything.
A Father's Dream
- At home, Andy's dad is surprised to see him home from school, even though he gets home at 4:00PM every day. Uh… His parents know nothing about him.
- Andy's dad says his report card came in the mail, and he's failing or barely passing everything. He wants answers for this poor performance, and he lays it on pretty thick. But Andy just complains that a lot of his teachers don't like him or are unfair to him.
- His dad gets more annoyed—these are all excuses, and he asks Andy how he expects to get into college when he can't even pass gym class.
- Andy tells his dad he's never been interested in college; that's always been his dad's dream, not his own.
- When his dad points out that he won't be able to play basketball if he doesn't go to college, Andy replies that he's not sure why his dad cares—he's never been to his basketball games.
- His dad tells him that he knows the accident was a traumatic experience, but it's time for him to move on now. Get over it.
- Then Andy asks his dad why he always calls him Andrew and not Andy.
- His dad explains that it's because his name is Ezekiel Jeremiah Jackson, and growing up everyone called him "Eazy" or "Zeke" and he hated it.
- When he started working, no one knew what to call him, so he went by "E.J." to sound more respectable.
- Andy's dad never wanted him to have to deal with the same thing, so he calls him Andrew—this way he has a strong, solid name that commands respect.
- Andy suspects his dad just wants to fit in with the white people he works with, and tells him so. This bugs his dad, and he tells his son that he needs to start caring about his life.
- Whatever you say, Dad.
Nighttime Cries of Desperation
- Andy is depressed, so he calls his psychologist to talk things over. Except, when he calls, someone else answers and says that Andy's doc isn't available because he's on a flight to see his family because his mom had a heart attack.
- Another doc is taking the calls, but Andy doesn't want to talk to some stranger, so he hangs up.
- Next, he dials Coach Ripley, but gets the answering machine.
- Then he calls Keisha. Her mom picks up and tells Andy that it's after midnight and he should be asleep; Keisha is already in bed so goodnight.
- Andy's not sure who to call now. No one cares about him.
"Have You Seen Andy?"
- In class, the teacher takes roll call, and Andy isn't there… again.
- Everyone asks each other if they've seen Andy, but no one has. Keisha thinks he needs to get his own life together before he hooks up with anyone else.
- Rhonda invites Keisha to the movies, but she says she'll just stay home and chill instead. Rhonda also tells Keisha that she's going over to Andy's after school to give him his chemistry homework—he'll fail if he misses another assignment.
Tigers Have It Rough
- At home alone, Andy thinks about his life. He's not sure what he has left any more.
- He doesn't want to cry or pray, and he has no one to talk to, nothing to do; no one gets him.
- Andy thinks about being a tiger, and how tough it is to roam around alone.
- He's cold now—on the inside; he feels nothing and doesn't know how to change it.
- Andy's not sure he wants to die, but he's just in so much pain and doesn't want to live anymore.
- He tells us that he's really sorry.
Facts Without Feelings
- In the official police report, we learn that Andy committed suicide.
- Rhonda came over to deliver Andy's homework, and his mom was just getting home with Monty.
- That's when Monty noticed some blood on the ceiling and his mom found Andy's body, with a bullet in his head.
Feelings on Display
- A grief counselor comes to the school to talk to Andy's friends.
- Tyrone and B.J. think it's a joke: Where was this support a couple weeks back when they asked for help for their friend? How come no one cares until it's too late?
- The lady tells them that death is a part of life, and they'll have to deal with it more as life goes on.
- Everyone thinks this is taken right out of a book. How about something that will actually help them?
- It's clear the counselor is just going to offer advice she's read in a pamphlet. Ugh.
- She tells them to write out their feelings toward Andy—it might help them deal with their pain and emotions.
Anger and Pain
- Andy's friends give the letter thing a shot, writing to Andy as though he can read what they have to say.
- Tyrone tells his friend that he could deal with Robbie's death because as sad as it was, it was an accident. Andy did this on purpose, though, and Tyrone just doesn't get how he could do such a thing.
- Now Andy will miss all the cool stuff that happens in their lives, and nothing can change this.
- Gerald writes that suicide is a coward's way out—he guesses Andy didn't have much courage, because otherwise he never would have blown his brains out.
- Some kid named Marcus from Andy's English class writes that even though they didn't know each other very well, he envied Andy back in the day. Now he knows that was just a lie.
- Rhonda gets angry in her letter. She's ticked that Andy would do this to them, especially to his mom and his brother. She was there when his mom found the body and could see the blood on the ceiling—she'll never forget that, and her pain won't go away either.
- Finally, Keisha's letter tells Andy that she can't believe he's dead. She doesn't understand it and hopes he's not in hell, even though he killed himself. She wants to believe God is forgiving and will let him into heaven, but she's not sure.
"Lord, Please Forgive Him."
- B.J. prays instead of writing a letter.
- He tells God that his buddy Andy is heading up to heaven, and to take care of him—Andy suffered a lot down here, so make sure that heaven is better for him. He assures God that Andy's a really good guy who just had a hard time.
- He gets why Andy was so afraid of death and felt like he couldn't cope here in life.
- B.J. just wants to make sure Andy finds peace, so if God could work that out for him, that would be great.
The Tears of a Tiger
- Monty's not sure if Andy can hear him, but he talks to the gravestone anyway.
- He tells his brother that their parents split up and live in different houses now; their mom cries all the time and it's super annoying.
- He wonders who will teach him stuff, like basketball and about kissing girls.
- Monty knows he has his parents, but he wishes he had his brother, too. He's not going to cry anymore, though, because he's tough like a tiger.