By: Jodi Lynn Anderson
Published date: July 2012
Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Before I picked up Tiger Lily, I had a friend tell me that the story is somewhat predictable but the prose is absolutely gorgeous. I’m not sure I agree with the first criticism (the story is expected, but intentionally so as we are working with a familiar story, and I think that is something different), but my goodness is the second part of her analysis true.
Tiger Lily is Jodi Lynn Anderson’s take on Peter Pan from the perspective of Tinker Bell, a silent participant in the events of the book, but given voice in the narration of the novel. It is, more than anything else, an exploration of love and fascination, and it is completely beautiful. From the very first sentence of the book, Anderson looks at love: romantic love, friendship, family, and the lines that can blur between them. Tinker Bell is completely captivated by Tiger Lily, who is a strong, misunderstood, and not always likeable, difficult character. It’s hard not to be captivated by her as well, as we watch her work through the events of the source material, but also through issues of bullying, loneliness, outsider-status, and colonialism. Tink and Tiger Lily both eventually meet Peter Pan, and both deal with unexpected and conflicting feelings about him. When Wendy arrives in Neverland, it becomes clear that their complex relationships will be even further tested, and that not everyone can have a happy ending.
I have always had a soft spot in my heart for Peter Pan, despite its problems (and the characterization of Tiger Lily and her tribe are certainly one of its problems). Anderson is very respectful of her source material, re-working it in a way that feels very true to the original story. She builds it into something different than Pan, and in some ways more beautiful, by focusing heavily on world building, character building, and fully exploring relationships between characters. And, as I mentioned before, the prose is absolutely phenomenal. The book feels philosophical, both otherworldly and realistic all in one, and deals genuinely with the strong emotions that come with love, including sadness and loss.
I was expecting to enjoy this book, going in. I’m not sure that I was expecting to love it as much as I did. It’s such a quick read, but in the way that sticks with you longer than expected. There’s so much joy and also so much melancholy that it knocked me a little off my gait; I actually found myself tearing up a bit in places, and I am most emphatically not a big book crier. In the end, I’m not sure who the heroes of this book are, and that’s OK. It took me on an awfully big adventure, and I’m so glad I experienced it.