Five-Star Friday is a periodically regular (say what?!) feature that I’m planning on running on Fridays (but not every Friday) in which I talk about (or verbally drool over) a book that I’ve read and ADORED (sometimes they’ll be recent releases and other times they might be older…my piles are tall and the bottoms are old). Yay! I always feel so happy and light and wonderful when I am beside myself with delight over a book, and I want to share the love with you all in the hopes that we can all get together and have an embarrassing, squeal-filled love-fest full of lots of high-pitched “Ohmygod, I KNOW!s” and chest-clutching sighs of contentedness. Huzzah!*
Hello, there, old friend! It’s been a little while since we last caught up with one another. Don’t get all frowny-face on me, though, because have I got a good one for you! TIGER LILY by Jodi Lynn Anderson, one of my favorite books of the year no question or doubt at all. Because I loved it so much, and because the writing was so sublime, I’m going to do something a little different and review the book in quotes. Just a few; just a taste. But it’s a good, juicy taste, I promise.
So, seriously, TIGER LILY by Jodi Lynn Anderson made me die. It’s gorgeous, sad, and AMAZING. I have long loved the Peter Pan story, and so getting to know these characters from a different perspective–Tiger Lily’s story through the eyes of Tinker Bell–was pretty special, especially when they are in such good hands. Jodi Lynn Anderson has an incredible gift with words, and not only weaves a heartbreaking story of first love, but she gives us an unending stream of pretty turns of phrase that I just had to share with you all. So, here we go!
Let me tell you straight off. This is a love story, but not like any you’ve heard. The boy and the girl are far from innocent. Dear lives are lost. And good doesn’t win.
The story of Tiger Lily and Peter Pan in Jodi Lynn Anderson‘s book is basically doomed from the start. It takes certain liberties with the events lots of people know, but there’s no version of the tale that I’ve ever seen or heard where Peter winds up with Tiger Lily, so that should be some indication of how things go. That, and this KILLER opening paragraph. TIGER LILY killed me repeatedly with it’s emotion and intensity.
Still, the longer I was around her, the more I could see the colors of her mind and the recesses of her heart. There was a beast in there. But there was also a girl who was afraid of being a beast, and who wondered if other people had beasts in their hearts too. There was strength, and there was also just the determination to to look strong. She guarded herself like a secret.
Tiger Lily herself is an exceedingly complex character, and this paragraph captures her perfectly, I think. There’s something truly wild about Tiger Lily, and incredibly strong and deep. There’s not much fragility there, but what IS there shapes her in really profound ways: her relationship with Peter and her loyalty to her father-figure, Tik Tok, the village shaman who dresses in women’s clothes. (There’s absolutely nothing tacky/drag queeny about Tik Tok. He’s a really beautiful character who is enormously important to Tiger Lily.)
It didn’t occur to her that there was anything in which Peter wanted her to fail. But sometimes I could see that, even for him, she was too fast, too sure-footed, and didn’t seem to need him quite enough.
One of the great problems with the relationship between Tiger Lily and Peter is their expectations. They both grew up in the wilderness of Neverland, especially Peter, who is one of the only Lost Boys who has literally no recollection of being a part of the outside world. And Tiger Lily is an odd soul who often keeps to herself and shies away from emotional connections. It seems, at the beginning, that neither of them know what it’s like to be in a relationship in a really literal way: they don’t actually know what to DO. It’s like they’re playing at it. But only at first. TIGER LILY just gets more complicated from there.
“It seems cowardly, getting old. Don’t you think?…Old people lock out all the scary, wild things. It’s like they don’t exist.”
Peter is another really complicated character in TIGER LILY. In fact, there are no flat characters within 100 miles of Jodi Lynn Anderson‘s book. They all have lots of things going on under the surface. Peter is naive in lots of ways and very much like a child, but he’s also brutal and mercurial and selfish. It’s hard, though, to hate him. Jodi Lynn Anderson creates a version of Peter Pan that is both touching and infuriating.
If there was ever a true moment that Tiger Lily fell so in love with Peter she could never turn back, it was that night, when he shivered and walked and told her he was warm, and told her he loved her so much. She was fierce, to be sure, but she had a girl’s heart after all.
BOOM. I can’t even deal with how much this NAILS Tiger Lily. And how much I loved the way things slowly get more serious and real between Peter and Tiger Lily. It’s fast but not REAL at the beginning, I thought. Their relationship has lots of obstacles, mostly to do with Tiger Lily and her connections to her tribe. But things slow down a bit and get more and more important and emotional little bit by little bit. GAH! I loved this passage.
“Watch that boy,” she said. “You’re stronger in many ways, but that doesn’t mean he can’t take you apart.”
TRUTH, Tiger Lily. Truth. Because I found that even though this quote is referring to Peter, it doesn’t have to be about him at all. If you love someone, they always have this power. What’s so great and endearing about Tiger Lily and Peter’s relationship is that they learn this the way everyone does for the first time: by experiencing it.
Of all the times I saw the two of them together, this is the picture that is most stamped into my soul. It’s the two of them, jumbled up and broken apart into confused pieces, and not really understanding, themselves, what they were doing.
WAHH!! When things start to fall apart in TIGER LILY, they kind of do it big. There’s things going with Tiger Lily and her tribe that are basically DEVASTATING, and then the thing we all know is coming happens: Wendy. It’s basically the death knell for our star-crossed couple in a really crushing way. Seriously. Crushing. Because it’s a little bit slower and you see it happening because Tink sees it happening but can’t do anything about it except watch. (She’s a really wonderful narrator, by the way. Because she can’t speak, but can sense what’s in people’s hearts and read their minds. It’s great to get a story where Tink gets a bit of mythology that makes her loyal to Tiger Lily, not Peter.)
Sometimes love means not being able to bear seeing the one you love the way they are when they’re not what you hoped for them.
I can’t even deal with how gorgeous this is. This quote is from near the end of the book, which is pretty much outstanding. The last chapter is out-of-control good. And in context? This line blew me away. I was pretty much crying by the time I got to this part, and I kind of just kept going. I cried lots at the end of TIGER LILY.
Every kind of love, it seems, is the only one. It doesn’t happen twice. And I never expected that you could have a broken heart and love with it too, so much that it doesn’t seem broken at all.
alshdlsjfha;jfh;qg;akjdhg *dies* At the very end of TIGER LILY is basically a page and a half of emotional magic. I cried. And I read it over and over again a billion times. I read it out loud to myself. I put it down and picked it up a week later and repeated the entire process. TIGER LILY haunted me. And there’s so much more to it than just Tiger Lily and Peter. Neverland is fully realized and mysterious and dangerous and magical. Seeing the world through Tink’s eyes is pretty genius because there’s not much she misses, and she can’t really insert herself into the action. The Sky Eaters–Tiger Lily’s tribe–have their own dramas and issues and they broke my heart, too. Honestly, I could gush about TIGER LILY by Jodi Lynn Anderson for days. It was beautiful and incredible.