Title: Tiger Lily
Author: Jodi Lynn Anderson
In short: another great read—a wonderful retelling, and such a beautiful story.
Fifteen-year-old Tiger Lily doesn’t believe in love stories or happy endings. Then she meets the alluring teenage Peter Pan in the forbidden woods of Neverland and immediately falls under his spell.
Peter is unlike anyone she’s ever known. Impetuous and brave, he both scares and enthralls her. As the leader of the Lost Boys, the most fearsome of Neverland’s inhabitants, Peter is an unthinkable match for Tiger Lily. Soon, she is risking everything—her family, her future—to be with him. When she is faced with marriage to a terrible man in her own tribe, she must choose between the life she’s always known and running away to an uncertain future with Peter.
With enemies threatening to tear them apart, the lovers seem doomed. But it’s the arrival of Wendy Darling, an English girl who’s everything Tiger Lily is not, that leads Tiger Lily to discover that the most dangerous enemies can live inside even the most loyal and loving heart.
Like I mentioned before, I really liked Tiger Lily. If you’re familiar even vaguely with the Peter Pan story (I’m hoping you are!) then you’ll remember the tribal princess from there. I haven’t actually read the original Peter Pan book, let me say, and I haven’t watched the movie any time recently, so the story wasn’t fresh in my mind. But Tiger Lily had a way of bringing back those memories, where I was nodding and thinking, yes, I remember that happening.
The story is narrated mostly by Tinkerbell—I say mostly because it does change and get quite confusing at times. Sometimes we see Tiger Lily’s perspective. You could put that down to the fact that Tink’s powers enable her to ‘see’ flashes of people’s thoughts, though. It didn’t bother me, although I understand that it did get on other people’s nerves. Anyway. Before I get carried away. Tiger Lily is of the Sky Eaters tribe, adopted by the shaman, Tik Tok. She’s nothing like what the tribe wants girls to be, so she’s an outsider a lot of the time. She does have company, in the form of Tik Tok, a boy called Pine Sap, and a girl called Moon Eye, the latter two of whom are vague acquaintances of hers. It’s obvious that even though Tiger Lily spends a lot of time with Pine Sap, she is nothing like him. She’s far more savage, far wilder.
In this book, the inhabitants of Neverland age up to a certain point and then stop growing older. The people are terrified that they’ll ‘catch’ the ageing disease from a foreigner—so when an Englishman winds up on the shores of Neverland, they refuse to help him. Tiger Lily is the one who cares for him, bringing him food and bandaging his injuries. One day, the pirates find the Englishman and kill him. Tiger Lily is furious, and follows the pirates, intending to kill them—and instead, she meets Peter Pan. The lost boys are almost legend, said to be cannibals, or murderers, or anything that would scare children away from them. But despite Tiger Lily’s initial wariness, despite the stories she has grown up hearing, she finds herself getting closer and closer to Peter and his boys—too close.
Fair warning, Tiger Lily is much, much darker than any other Peter Pan story I’ve heard. It’s the gritty, bittersweet hardship in the growth of one girl. It’s the story of someone who thought she was strong enough to survive anything, and found that there were struggles she’d never imagined herself going through. Tiger Lily is such a complex, lonely character that it’s impossible not to feel for her. Even our mute narrator, Tinkerbell, has a new place in my heart after this—honestly speaking, I never really liked Tink. But another warning: this is probably not for Peter/Wendy fans. I consider myself one of them, and it broke me to see how much Wendy’s character was ripped to shreds. But it made sense, since we are seeing Wendy from Tiger Lily’s perspective. And I could still appreciate Tiger Lily and Peter’s romance, so fitting considering their complex characters.
Another point that really struck me in this book is the Englanders. The ship full of Englanders that arrive in Neverland is almost symbolic of medieval explorers—the kind who arrive with tales of God and How Things Should Be. It was absolutely heartbreaking to see the effect of their preaching on the Sky Eaters, especially how it impacted Tik Tok (who is, by the way, transgendered). So expertly dealt with. This book is not for the weak-hearted, and is certain to cause a little self-introspection.