Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson
Harper Teen, 2012
*ARC supplied by The Book Cellar - thank you!*
I doubt that when J.M. Barrie first penned Peter Pan, he knew how exactly the world he built in Neverland would come to shape future generations of dreamers. The tale of The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up is something that many of us are familiar with in one form or another (many via the 1953 Disney adaptation).
But Peter and his lost boys aren't the only inhabitants of Neverland. There's the girl who Peter loved before Wendy was even in the picture, and her story is beautifully told in Jodi Lynn Anderson's newest novel, Tiger Lily.
Fifteen year old Tiger Lily is a free spirit, one who has never fully fit in with her tribe. She doesn't do the things a girl ought to - she hunts, runs, gets dirty, and not outwardly warm or conventionally pretty. And she certainly doesn't believe in love, that is, until she meets Peter Pan. The leader of the Lost Boys and with a personality completely opposite of her own - loud, loving, and impulsive - she is soon risking everything to be with him. But just because Neverland is magical doesn't mean it guarantees happy endings. With the arrival of some Englanders and Tiger Lily's impending marriage to a horrible man in her tribe, Tiger Lily must choose between the life she's always known or an uncertain life with Peter.
This book made me physically ache, my heart not having enough room in my chest for all the feelings that were coursing through it. There are so many things about this book that Anderson just did so completely perfectly. For one, the choice to have Tiger Lily be the protagonist but having Tinker Bell be the narrator was simply genius - Tink is a reliable narrator, and her abilities as a fairy give us a unique and special view of these characters we've all grown up with and this place that lives within all our imaginations. Primary and supporting characters are all distinct and well rounded, even if they aren't on the page for very long. The descriptive language is exquisite from top to bottom - reading this book was like looking at a painting.
But more than anything else, the character of Tiger Lily herself was so powerful. Normally all of the attention goes to Wendy Darling as the leading lady in Peter's life, but Tiger Lily was someone I could relate to and feel for so strongly. She keeps her feelings inside and everyone else at an arm's length, but just because she doesn't say much doesn't mean she thinks or feels any less. She's confused by the feelings Peter brings up inside of her, she doesn't always do or say the right thing, she's incredibly passionate, and she manages to both run wild and be strikingly still all at once.
Tiger Lily also confirms my belief that Peter Pan is the real original bad boy of children's literature - I think every girl has fallen for a Peter at least once in her life, that boy who has so much charisma, is so full of life and makes everything a little bit brighter, but in the end those are also the qualities about him that end up breaking your heart.
If you like retellings of classic stories, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Tiger Lily makes readers see that J.M. Barrie only told one version of the events of Neverland. If I were one to give books star ratings, this one gets a 5 without a second thought.
Comments welcome, and, as always, happy reading!
Jodi Lynn Anderson on Facebook
Jodi Lynn Anderson on Twitter