Tears of a Tiger is the first book in Sharon Draper's Hazelwood High trilogy. The novel begins with a brief newspaper article about a fiery automobile accident in which one Hazelwood High student, Robert Washington, was killed. The article also notes that Andrew (Andy) Jackson was injured in the wreck and that he had been drinking and driving. The next chapter consists of a flashback locker-room conversation between Andy Jackson and Robbie Washington from the night of the accident. The boys are excited about the basketball game that they just completed and discuss their plans for after the game. Andy mentions his girlfriend Keisha to Robbie and Gerald, another Hazelwood High student, and then the boys talk about the beer that they have chilling in Andy's trunk. Gerald declines to go with the boys, citing his abusive stepfather's strict rules.

After the crash, the Hazelwood High community struggles to cope with Robbie's seemingly senseless death. Keisha, Andy's girlfriend, calls her friend Rhonda to let her know that Robbie died in the crash. Andy struggles through his statement to police and explains that he and the other boys had been drinking, causing Andy to lose control of his car and crash it. Andy, B.J., and Tyrone were able to get out of the car, but Robbie, who was riding in the front passenger seat, was trapped inside and burned to death. Andy cannot get the image of his dying friend out of his head, and B.J.'s prayer in the next chapter demonstrates that he cannot sleep or find any meaning in the horrific accident.

When Andy returns to school, he talks to his basketball coach and expresses that he is having an extremely difficult time getting past the accident. He feels gnawing guilt over Robbie's death and cannot understand why his sentence was so light. Coach Ripley tries to encourage Andy by telling him that he, the police, and the judge believe that Andy will correct his behavior and that he had already paid the consequences for his actions. Andy tries to accept that, but the only part of his life that seems to go well during this time is basketball.

About a month after the accident, Andy begins seeing a psychologist named Dr. Carrothers. At first, Andy is reluctant to talk openly with Dr. Carrothers, but his curiosity in meeting an African-American psychologist motivates him to ask questions and to form a tentative bond with the counselor. During his first session, Andy tells Dr. Carrothers that he cannot forgive himself for Robbie's death and that he has no connection...

(The entire section is 1026 words.)