Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson (2012)
Suggested age range: 12 and up
(Harper Teen, 292 pages)
Rating: 5/5 stars
“Sometimes I think that maybe we are just stories. Like we may as well just be words on a page, because we’re only what we’ve done and what we are going to do.” [Tinker Bell]
What I Thought of Tiger Lily
A word to describe Jodi Lynn Anderson’s Tiger Lily, dedicated to “Girls with messy hair and thirsty hearts”? AMAZING! I couldn’t read this Peter Pan inspired narrative featuring Tiger Lily as its protagonist fast enough. Tinker Bell narrates the story, and it is through her eyes we meet fifteen year old Tiger Lily, who we come to realize is complex, brave, and compassionate. Through Tinker Bell, we know what Tiger Lily is thinking and feeling. We watch her meet Peter Pan. Also, Hook and Smee. The Lost Boys. Even Wendy Darling. Many of these characters we know well from J.M. Barrie’s classic.
But Anderson’s fantasy set in Neverland gives readers an intriguing glimpse into the relationship between Tiger Lily and Peter Pan, the boy who wouldn’t grow up. Or would he? Many of us remember the original classic book by Barrie or the Disney film, and we think fondly of the meeting of Peter Pan and Wendy. We may not think much of Tiger Lily, whom we only glimpse fleetingly in the original story/play. However, in this book, Tiger Lily’s character is developed by an author who writes beautiful and deep passages about the girl with “the crow feather in her hair.”
From a tribe where many of her people are afraid of her, Tiger Lily is forced into an engagement to a horrible, “oafish,” man in her tribe, right as she meets Peter and the Lost Boys. Many lives are changed throughout the novel, and various consequences take place as a result of the connection between the brave Tiger Lily and the eternally young Peter Pan.
Anderson’s prose is gorgeous, and there are many passages worth mulling over. Her words are meaningful, insightful, and give the reader significant glimpses into Tiger Lily’s heart. You may shed a few tears while reading this book, but they are worth the read.
Spirituality in Tiger Lily
In terms of the spirituality of the story, I was drawn to the way Tiger Lily’s identity becomes more grounded as she reaches out to someone in need (the Englander), becomes friends with Peter and the Lost Boys, and faces new enemies, both within her tribe and without. Tik Tok, Tiger Lily’s guardian, deals with new challenges when the Englander arrives and brings his “religion” with him. These different ideas of who God is and what he expects of the people begins to change the spiritual climate in the tribe, and slowly, Tik Tok is isolated. Tiger Lily is pained to see this, and her compassion and kindness reflects her own spirituality. She is aware that the spirituality of the Englander is not good for the culture of her tribe, but the others do not realize that until too late. The story provides ample room for discussion of the unique connection between Tiger Lily and Peter Pan, the world of Tiger Lily’s tribe, and the infamous Hook and his pirates. This would assuredly make a fabulous book club book.
The Final Word
I had high expectations because Epic Reads recommended the story so strongly on a Tea Time I watched. I knew if they said it was good, it had to be good! Of course, I was not disappointed and consider this a new favorite for 2013. Since I studied children’s literature in England, I am a fanatic when it comes to children’s classics. So anything Peter Pan related, I want to read. Definitely sad when this book ended—it stayed with me for days.