“Let me tell you something straight off. This is a love story, but not like any you've ever heard. The boy and the girl are far from innocent. Dear lives are lost. And good doesn't win.”
Halfway through reading Tiger Lily, I was sure that this would end up being a 4-star-read. After finishing that last note, that last P.S., I realized how wrong I was.
At that point it hit me that Tiger Lily made it to the top of my 2013 favorites list, catching me by surprise and leaving me at a loss for words. It left behind a plethora of emotions, with only my tears to keep me company.
At least to me, there is a huge barrier dividing the ratings of 4 and 5 stars. 4 stars are dedicated to enjoyable reads. They bring a smile to your face, they entertain you, and throw in some beautiful prose, and you've got yourself a solid 4-star read.
Books like Tiger Lily are an entirely different matter. They haunt you through the night. They provide some sort of insight into life no 4-star read could manage to do. It is not necessary that they bring you happiness; rather they succeed in infuriating you, depressing you, and ripping your heart to shreds. They make you think about life itself, through a clear, real scope, instead of a sweetened one. They tattoo themselves on your subconscious, with or without your approval, and will continue to joyously torment you for the rest of your days. They are, unarguably, unique masterpieces that deliver with a bang.
Beyond this, I’m a bit tongue-tied. I could discuss how my pitiful sobs wrecked me hours after reading this, or how the mere sight of the book’s cover will cause me to inadvertently choke up from the memory of this book. But, I will leave that to you as a reader to experience.
Tiger Lily is not a traditional fairy-tale retelling. I am obligated to warn you: I highly doubt it can be described as full of adventure and magic and playfulness. In other words, it’s not like the Disney movie. That’s not its purpose. Its purpose it to tell the story of the commonly overlooked Tiger Lily; her hardships, her maturity, her struggle. I would even venture to say this is a coming-of-age novel in its own right.
Tinker Bell is our narrator in this story. I won’t even pretend I liked her at the beginning. While not completely reliable, she is probably one of the best narrators I've had the pleasure of reading. I love her so much more, now that I've been exposed to the other side of Peter Pan’s story, and for her narration I am grateful.
At this very moment, weeks after finishing the novel, I am still caught up in the lush setting of Neverland, with its mysterious forest and exotic plants. Ms. Anderson captures the setting so effectively that it is so easy to imagine myself there, alongside Tiger Lily and Peter and the Lost Boys (not you Wendy).
As I've mentioned earlier, the goal of this retelling is to provide us with an alternative story to the one we were exposed to since childhood. Ms. Anderson creatively takes a unique approach to this story, staying true to the original while adding her own brilliance to the story, leaving us with an utterly phenomenal and enchanting read.
The writing, of course, was captivating as well. It just captures the very essence of Neverland perfectly.
“How can I describe Peter's face, the pieces of him that stick to my heart? Peter sometimes looked aloof and distant; sometimes his face was open and soft as a bruise. Sometimes he looked completely at Tiger Lily, as if she were the point on which all the universe revolved, as if she were the biggest mystery of life, or as if she were a flame and he couldn't not look even though he was scared. And sometimes it would all disappear into carelessness, confidence, amusement, as if he didn't need anyone or anything on this earth to feel happy and alive.”
I highly doubt I will forget this story anytime soon.