March 18, 2013 by Heidi
Title: Tiger Lily [Amazon|Goodreads]
Author: Jodi Lynn Anderson [Twitter|Facebook]
Standing: Stand alone novel.
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling
Published: July 3rd, 2012 by HarperCollins Children’s Books
Format: Hardcover; 292 pages.
Source: Borrowed from my local library.
“You love me,” she said. “That’s enough. We love each other.”
“Yes. Yes, that’s true.” He smiled. “We are a love story.”
Tink will warn you at the beginning that Tiger Lily is a love story–she says that the boy and girl aren’t innocent, and lives are lost, and that good doesn’t win, but I have to admit–I disagree with our little narrator. Yes, Jodi Lynn Andreson’s Tiger Lily is a love story, but it’s one where the boy and the girl are more innocent than they know, where bad doesn’t win, though yes, I’m afraid dear lives are lost. Tiger Lily is a story of love in so many ways beyond first love; it is a love of family, and love of the land, love of a people, and love of one’s self.
You have probably guessed by now that Tiger Lily is a retelling of J. M. Barrie’s children’s classic, Peter Pan. Told through the eyes of the fairy Tinker Bell, Tiger Lily follows the life of the wild adopted daughter of the Sky Eater’s Medicine Man, Tik Tok. Both father and daughter spend their pages bristling against conformity, and drowning in the inevitable as it catches up with them. When Tiger Lily disobeys her tribe’s ruling to let a castaway Englander die, they sentence her to marriage and domesticity, a bond that will tie her to one of the more frightening men of the Sky Eater’s tribe. Tiger Lily spends her last months of freedom cavorting in the Forbidden areas of Neverland with the Lost Boys, and handing her heart to Peter Pan before more Englanders arrive to change everything.
I’ve never been a lover of Peter Pan, in fact, I actively dislike both him and his story. Surprisingly, this worked well for my enjoyment of Tiger Lily, and also provided me with a varying viewpoint as to the inevitable outcome. It’s easy not to be broken over a relationship you never felt was an OTP to begin with. My sole issue with Tiger Lily was the narration through Tinker Bell. It’s a very awkward structure that has a character telling the story through first person, but because she is empathetic her observations often slip making you feel as an observer in a third person narrative. This structure was jarring for me for the first 100 pages or so, until finally I was able to slip into the feel of it and truly enjoy. Tink’s perspective becomes almost beautiful, sometimes feeling as if it is a dance riddled with staccato notes and heartbreaking turns of phrase.
Tiger Lily as a character captured my heart completely, right from Jodi Lynn Anderson’s dedication: For the girls with messy hair and thirsty hearts. Believed by her people to be cursed, or watched by the gods, she bears their disdain with nonchalance, but it is clear her inability to fit weighs heavily on her heart. When the story begins, the only love she really understands is that of a daughter for her father, and learning to love in other ways threatens to collapse her heart completely–there doesn’t seem to be enough room in Tiger Lily’s heart to fit so much. She isn’t very good at being a traditional girl, she’s always thrashing through the wilderness and providing a challenge for Peter, hoping that if he sees her as his equal he will love her forever.
Peter is a lover of wild things, and though he comes to feel very deeply for Tiger Lily before the inevitable Wendy descends upon them, I was never really convinced of his feelings for her. Perhaps they were what one another needed at the time, but they weren’t in truth what one another needed in the long run. Tiger Lily needed to be loved unconditionally for who she was, whereas Peter Pan needed to be a leader, praised, and held above all others by the woman in his life. Their relationship isn’t a power struggle, it’s more like watching two sponges soak up everything they can get from the other, and then ask wide eyed for more than they can possibly give.
Indeed, so much of Tiger Lily focuses on who you are willing to put your faith in. Whether it be Phillip the Englander, Peter Pan, Tik Tok, Tiger Lily, Captain Hook, or God, each character in Tinker Bell’s story (including herself) will place their faith in another, and look to them for love and leadership. Many of these leaders will fail.
So few books out there really understand love, or try to tell the truth of it to young adults: that first love doesn’t often last forever, but that it never really goes away. That every time you fall in love it will be completely different, but that doesn’t make it less real. Each player in this novel is both hero and villain to another, making it beautifully complex for such a short read. Jodi Lynn Anderson has taken a children’s fantasy story and shown it’s surprising depth and darkness. She has masterfully given a throw-away character a voice, a story, and a beautiful, hard life. It is a story that is as bold as it is bittersweet, which is the only true way Tiger Lily’s tale could have been told–in the end, it is perfect.
Likelihood that I’ll be back for more: I picked up Peaches a while back when it was a Kindle deal, and after being surprised by Jodi Lynn Anderson’s insight on youth and love, I really want to give it a shot.
Recommended for: Readers who never had much love for Peter Pan, enjoy an unconventional perspective, and can appreciate a story that is true to life rather than a HEA.
Real life repercussions of reading this book: This was our YAckers read for the month! Make sure to keep an eye out for our YAck (I can promise you pics of our Richard Armitage casting).
Get a second opinion:
Angieville – “I choked back tears more than once and, as in the original, the ending is fragile and aching and right.”
Ivy Book Bindings – “While I was expecting a cute romance, I instead found a deep, provocative, and thoughtful tale.”
Books Take You Places – “The story was riveting. It was heartbreaking, tender, harrowing, compelling, breathtaking and all around gorgeous.”
Tripping Over Books – “Tiger Lily haunted me. And there’s so much more to it than just Tiger Lily and Peter.”
Paranormal Indulgence – “How can something so well-loved cause so much pain? Nevertheless, I love the story anyway.”