It’s never an easy feeling to deal with when you’re practically responsible for killing your best friend. Especially because you couldn’t just say ‘no’ to that one last drink or just allow the sober guy to take the wheel for once. Now you’re not only faced with the fact that your future is slowly slipping away from your grasp but also that the seat where Robert Washington sat will now forever be empty.Welcome to the life of Andy Jackson. Well, what’s left of it.
Death, a factor of life that confuses, saddens and scares the best of us, is one of the main themes Sharon Draper uses in her novel, Tears of a Tiger, to evoke heavy feelings from her readers as well as to get a certain message across; drunk driving destroys lives. Research undergone by the National Highway Traffic Safety Admission of Washington DC, shows that 211 children lost their lives in drunk driving crashes in 2010 alone and 62 percent (131 children) were riding with a drunk driver. Despite The myths of dunking oneself under a cold shower, drinking strong coffee or exercising to get sober, Michigan State University says that alcohol is metabolized by a person’s body at the rate of one drink per hour. So the myths are only just that. Myths. Only time can sober a person up. Just as how only time can heal scars.
The other theme Draper sews into this depressing, tear-jerking novel is racial prejudice. As much as we hope to believe that racism has vanished from society, it’s merely been suppressed. Throughout Tears of a Tiger,most of the adults in Andy’s life – mainly teachers – believe that the farthest he could make it in life is being a basketball coach. They also feel that because he is black, he can handle the death of his best friend with ease since “black kids are tough” (pg. 127).
Apart from themes, having a unique writing style is one of the most defining attributes that an author should have if they ever want to dwell among the top of the top. It can also come in handy if they plan on keeping the readers’ interest in the story they’re trying to tell. So when I read Tears of a Tiger, I figured this is exactly what Sharon Draper was trying to do when she used the characters’ conversations to tell the story. First of all, I thought this technique of writing was absolutely ingenious and very unique. However, at times, this method led to a bit of confusion since it was hard to tell who was talking and when. Yet what was really innovative was how Draper tried to engage the reader farther by allowing them to view the characters’ thoughts through letters they wrote, the school homework they handed in (pg. 63-70) and also through newspaper headlines (pg. 1, 20-22, 166).
In spite of the themes and the original writing style Sharon Draper exhibits, to begin a story with a horrible accidental death and to end it with a purpose-filled death is truly the perfect way to depress and traumatize any individual. I’ll be sure to watch out for more books written by this master of despair.
- Publisher: Simon Pulse; Reprint edition (February 1, 1996)
- Length: 180 pages (Paperback)
- Series: Hazelwood High trilogy #1
- Source: Local Library
- Genre: Young Adult, Death, Sports, Realistic Fiction
- Completed: March 2013