Publisher: Simon Pulse
Series: Hazelwood High #2
Reviewed In Series: Tears of a Tiger
My Rating: 4 Stars
When Gerald was a child he was fascinated by fire. But fire is dangerous and powerful, and tragedy strikes. His substance-addicted mother is taken from him. Then he loses the loving generosity of a favorite aunt. A brutal stepfather with a flaming temper and an evil secret makes his life miserable. The one bright light in Gerald’s life is his little half sister, Angel, whom he struggles to protect from her father, Jordan Sparks, who abuses her, and from their mother, whose irresponsible behavior forces Gerald to work hard to keep the family together. As a teenager, Gerald finds success as a member of the Hazelwood Tigers basketball team, while Angel develops her talents as a dancer. Trouble still haunts them, however, and Gerald learns, painfully, that young friends can die and old enemies must be faced. In the end he must stand up to his stepfather alone in a blazing confrontation.
My Thoughts: It’s very hard to read about abuse. It is painful to read about child abuse. I didn’t have to struggle through this one; but, had it been longer, I might have. Draper is able to deliver a powerful story within 156 pages.
This story focuses on Gerald, a player on Hazelwood High’s basketball team, and also from the first book, Tears of a Tiger. We get to start from the beginning with his character. We get to visualize the hell he’s been through his whole life, starting with his mother’s addiction to drugs. After she leaves him alone at the age of 3, there’s a fire that nearly kills him and he’s sent to live with his aunt. When he is a teenager, his mother comes back into his life on the same day that his aunt passes away. Things go from bad to worse for Gerald. He not only has to deal with abuse from his step-father, he learns real quickly that his step-father is sexually abusing his little sister. Gerald uses himself as a barrier between the two, and vows to protect his little sister.
There’s so much drama going down in this little book! It’s not a long read, thank God, but you get way more than you think with these characters. I always wondered what would become of Gerald when I was re-reading Tears of a Tiger. There are stories that need to be told, but it’s up to the reader to brave it’s content. If you or someone that you know has ever been abused, both physically and sexually, then this book will be painful to read. I can say that I won’t be revisiting this book, simply because of the subject matter. The writing is flawless and filled with so much emotion. I will read Draper’s books all day, but this one I don’t think will make my re-read list.
Recommend? Yes, especially if you have read the first book. This is also a book (series) that deserves more praise than it has gotten. Simply put, Draper is an amazing writer when it comes to African-American culture. She makes you see that things aren’t always as they appear, and misjudgments among society breeds ignorance from every turn. I for one, can’t get enough of her work. Highly recommend!