Jacqueline Woodson's novel, Miracle's Boys, centers around three orphaned African-American, Puerto Rican brothers: Ty'ree, Charlie, and Lafayette. The novel focuses on the individual struggles of each brother, as well as the collective struggles they all face growing up in Harlem after the deaths of both of their parents. Internal and external conflicts are seen throughout the story.
The conflicts in the novel can be narrowed down to three main struggles: Ty'ree caring for his younger siblings; Charlie readjusting to life after his release from a juvenile detention center; and Lafayette's guilt over the death of his mother.
Ty'ree is twenty-two years old and the oldest of the three brothers. He gives up his dreams of attending college to take care of his siblings. He becomes their legal guardian and struggles to support them with a limited income. He loves his brothers and does his best to take care of them, but he is also bitter and resents having to sacrifice his own dreams and future after the death of their mother.
Charlie is fifteen years old and was recently released from a juvenile detention facility after serving time for armed robbery. He is angry and struggles to adjust to life with his family and friends after his release. He is changed by the time he served and his behavior and personality are unrecognizable to his brothers. He is one transgression away from becoming a ward of the state. He knows his brothers need him to stay out of trouble and be a responsible member of the family, but he finds it difficult to resist the negative influence of his friends.
Lafayette is the narrator, protagonist, and youngest brother. He blames himself for the death of his mother because he found her after she went into a diabetic coma and he was unable to help her. He struggles with his feelings of guilt and is afraid to be close to anyone again. As a result, he becomes distant and withdrawn.
In addition to their respective struggles, the brothers also face the collective struggles of communicating with one another; living in poverty; and navigating life after losing their parents at young ages.