Study Guide

Tears of a Tiger Summary

By Sharon M. Draper

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.