The Rusty Key's Reviews > The Tiger Rising

The Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo
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Oct 26, 2010

it was amazing

Reviewed by Rusty Key Writer: Jordan B. Nielsen

Recommended for: EVERYONE aged twelve and up, both boys and girls. There are some adult themes, and mild, but poignant violence, which will probably be more affecting to those over twenty than the younger set, who might not feel its full force.

One Word Summary: Radiant

Oh Kate, you’ve done it again. The words ‘Kate DiCamillo’ are becoming more than just a name, but a state of being. If you’re feeling a little ‘Kate DiCamillo’, chances are you’re a bit weepy and nostalgic, wishing to just lie on your bed all day and watch the wind in the trees, contemplating things lost. Her prior work, ‘The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane’ became one of my favorite books before I’d even finished it or mopped myself up out of the puddle of my own hysterical tears. So I entered The Tiger Rising with a ready tissue box, the bedroom door closed, and the certainty that my next few days would be spent in a wistful, heart-rendered cloud. I was not disappointed.

On his program Real Time, Bill Maher once condemned a nation who believes Harry Potter to be a great work of literature as a bunch of morons. I won’t get on my soap box right now about the greatness of Harry, but The Tiger Rising is exactly the kind of work that I would point to to as proof that anyone who thinks that books meant for children can never match the intellectual complexity of a work written for adults, completely and utterly wrong.

Set in an overcast and swampy Florida, in that un-nameable book-time of before now and after World War II, The Tiger Rising follows Rob, a sixth grade boy, whose mother has recently died of cancer, now living in a motel with his quietly grief-paralyzed father. Rob is an outcast at school, bullied by thugs, overlooked by adults, and teased for a skin condition that has resulted from his own suppressed grief. His misunderstood rash, however irritating, proves to be his savior as he’s sent home from school indefinitely, for fear of spreading it to his fellow classmates, who are oh-so-deserving of something virulent.

And then, inexplicably, there is a Tiger. In the woods behind the motel Rob finds the cage, the great orange beauty stalking back and forth in its tiny enclosure, alone and breathtakingly out of place. Rob is enthralled, a sense of wonderment and elation brought back to his life that was stuffed down into his “suitcase of not-thoughts” with the loss of his mother. Rob’s only friend, Sistine, a new girl in town, full of outrage and her own personal loss, is brought in on the secret of the Tiger. Sistine wants to free it, Rob can’t bare to see it go.

The story is heavy with metaphor, and if I were forced at gunpoint to name a flaw of the book, I might say the metaphors are occasionally a little too heavy, but I think only cynical, well-read adults would sense that. There are elements and plot turns to this story that are familiar, perhaps even predictable, but the reason why I’m untroubled by this is that the setting, prose, and characters are all so cleanly written and sharply real that the work stands on its own. It’s the DiCamillo style in full force: so frank and pure that you could never call it sentimental, even though it’s rich with sentiment. The very slimness of the book in your hands shouts that what you hold is like a comet in the night, here and then gone, arresting and haunting. So slim that I won’t go further into the plot, as there is not much more to tell without taking away the joy of its discovery. An outstanding read.

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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
October 26, 2010 – Shelved

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dog lover 9 i liked it

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