Tiger Lily is tough and wild and maybe a little magical. Adopted into a tribe in Neverland, she’s always on the outside. When she meets the elusive and captivating Peter Pan, she finds herself drawn to him. It doesn’t take long before Tiger Lily is willing to risk everything in her world–including those she loves–in order to be with him. Things in Neverland are constantly changing, though, and Tiger Lily’s future isn’t guaranteed to be happy.
A retelling of Peter Pan whose jacket flap summary plays up a potential love triangle could easily be dismissed as more of the paranormal romance that’s flooding the YA market these days. Fortunately, Jodi Lynn Anderson’s Tiger Lily surpasses all expectations and ends up being a haunting, lyrical tale of one girl’s self-discovery. Coincidentally, it’s one of the best YA books of the year.
Narrating this dark, oftentimes slow tale is the miniscule and totally mute Tinkerbell, who becomes obsessed with Tiger Lily. She follows her around and watches as the events of Tiger Lily’s fifteenth year unfold. While Tinkerbell is virtually powerless against humans, she has a strong voice that helps bring the characters and the setting to life. It is difficult to get inside Tiger Lily’s head, but Tinkerbell helps the reader understand her actions and motivations. The supporting characters are well drawn, complicated, and deeply flawed. Everything about the book’s characterization is excellent, and sophisticated readers will devour this story.
The book is a richly re-imagined take on Neverland, and although it is much darker and much more sinister than readers are familiar with, there’s something completely captivating about it. Although the novel moves at a fairly relaxed pace, there’s still an undercurrent of tension that makes it impossible to put this one down. The ending is sad but fairly satisfying. Anderson is at her best with this most recent offering.
Highly, highly recommended.
Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson. Harper Collins Children’s Books: 2012. Library copy.