Caroline's Reviews > Tiger Lily

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson
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Tiger Lily is such an enigmatic character, and when I think about it, I've always liked her a bit more than Wendy. (It's not that I don't like Wendy, mind you.) Though dismissed as a Native American stereotype, the Tiger Lily of the Disney "Peter Pan" adaptation is very pretty, a little haughty, and clearly a very different animal from the typical Disney girl. (Remember Tiger Lily going to her would-be doom, tied up with her nose in the air?) As someone who looked more like Tiger Lily as a little girl than Wendy, I think that I did prefer her a tad. I just didn't know that I wanted an entire book about her--not then. Now? I'm very, very glad that such a story exists at the hands of Jodi Lynn Anderson. If this doesn't put her firmly on the fantasy map--I know that her "Peaches" trilogy was bestselling, but that's a different genre entirely--I don't know what will.

Here's the thing: "Tiger Lily" is not an overly complicated story. Told through Tinker Bell's perspective--a bold move, as this is most definitely not her tale--it is part Tiger Lily's everyday life and challenges, the enigma surrounding her stony personality, and part the rise and fall of a love story. Anderson reimagines Neverland in a way that doesn't stray too far from Barrie's world, while filling in the gaps of Tiger Lily's culture. The writing is lush without bordering on purple, and, as many others have pointed out, a bit melancholic. It utterly suits the story, for there's always a bit of foreboding and sadness around the corner--yet not in a manner that's overkill. Anderson also captures the sense of teenagerdom, of young love in an impossible setting.

Let's go back to that bold move I mentioned--making Tinker Bell the narrator. This was really a great decision. Not only is Tink, traditionally mute, a great little personality (a female who likes another female in a non romantic/jealous/conditional way! What a concept!), she also remains the ultimate immortal insider on Neverland. When an infodump is necessary, as they inevitably are, they never come off as awkward. These are simply things that Tinker Bell would know.

Tink's narration also builds a safety net for Anderson. She doesn't slip up and write Tiger Lily, or the more familiar Peter Pan as out of character. She can't. They're enigmas. We know Tiger Lily more than we know Pan, but we never REALLY know her. Not completely. And that's great. I loved reading about this boy who is not a boy, a darker character than I previously imagined. Furthermore, I loved reading about a strong yet morally gray girl--yes, a gray girl who falls in love like any other girl. A fierce, dark girl who still wants acceptance and wants to be loved. I couldn't get enough of Tiger Lily and her claws, or Peter and his desperate, uncertain ways.

"Tiger Lily" is not without its problems. In particular, I felt that there was a bit of awkwardness about the culture clash between the Englanders and the Sky Eaters, and how it related to the issue with the pirates and the overall arc of Tiger Lily and Peter Pan's relationship. It led to some beautiful moments, but could have been smoother. Tiger Lily's awesome husband-to-be, Giant, also bothered me, as he seemed a bit stereotypical. Yet these are small issues, and none of them take away from the overall magic of the book.

"Tiger Lily" is, again, a book I didn't know I wanted or needed until I had it. But I'm glad I do.

4.5/5

--Advanced Reader's Copy provided by the Goodreads First Reads giveaway, and HarperCollins Publishers
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