Word Spelunking

Tiger Lily - Jodi Lynn Anderson THREE WORDS: Bittersweet, Eloquent, BreathtakingMY REVIEW: Meeeep! This book has given me so many thinks and feels. I’m a tidal wave of thoughts and feelings, yet I’m reduced to nonsensical Meeping. Jodi Lynn Anderson’s Tiger Lily is SO good that it has rendered me speechless and reduced to simple Meeping…meepmeepmeep!Everyone knows the story of Peter Pan and Wendy, the boy who didn’t want to grow up and the girl who almost made him change his mind. But what about Tiger Lily, the native girl with the crow feathers in her hair? This is her story. The story of how this brave girl, an outcast in her own community, fell in love with the mysterious and feared Peter. Tiger Lily doesn’t believe in happily ever afters or true love, but that doesn’t stop her from wanting these things with Peter, especially when her impending marriage to a horrible man looms near. But this love story isn’t a happy one and is interrupted by pirates, Englanders and Wendy Darling.The story of Peter Pan, the Lost Boys, Wendy, Tiger Lily, Captain Hook, Tink and company is one many readers know well and there are many versions of this story, both written and on screen. And everyone is bound to have their favorite version (when I was little my favorite was the television musical starring Mary Martin!), but Jodi Lynn Anderson’s retelling (which could also be called a prequel) offers readers a completely new and refreshing take on this well-known story. And in this retelling, it is the character of Tiger Lily that takes center stage.Tiger Lily is a beguiling tale full of adventure, romance, beauty and thought-provoking situations. Anderson has taken a well-known and much beloved story and, using her endless imagination and impressive use of words, has crafted a whole new chapter in the world of Neverland and has captivatingly depicted a character that has rarely had a chance to shine. And she has done this without marring the original essence of J.M. Barrie’s story. Tiger Lily’s story and character has been brought to life with the utmost thoughtfulness and exquisiteness that she deserves.Told from Tinker Bell’s point of view, readers are given an honest and thrilling glimpse into the love story of Tiger Lily and Peter Pan from an outsider who truly loves both parties involved. Perfectly and languidly (in the best possible way) paced, Tiger Lily flows effortlessly and offers both exciting scenes of peril and quiet moments of utterly breathtaking and heart-aching beauty. There is such a fantastical loveliness to Anderson’s writing. Even when the story is dark and breaks your heart, it does so with eloquence.The Neverland Anderson depicts is lush and vivid, striking and startling, enchanting and forbidding. This world is filled with mythical creatures (fairies, mermaids, etc), but the true magic is found less in the fantastical and more in the characters explored. And Anderson’s characters are superb! I haven’t been this compelled and enthralled by a group of characters in a long time.Tiger Lily isn’t often given a huge role in most Peter Pan adaptations and she is usually depicted as a spoiled Indian princess who is in love with Peter and jealous of Tink and the Wendy Bird. But Anderson has given Tiger Lily such well-crafted layers and dimension. She is a fascinating mix of fierceness and vulnerability, compassion and distance, courage and fear. This is a heroine that will enthrall, enrage and excite readers, possibly in the span of a single page! And of course, Tiger Lily falls for the mischievous Peter Pan. Peter is a fun, impetuous, frustrating and witty character. Their innocent, yet intense journey of first love is simply stunning; so full of fire, magic, heartache and honesty. From the quiet moments they share under the stars to their adventures together against the pirates to their sweet, quick kisses, I was spellbound by this romance. And of course, we all know this love story cannot have a happy ending, not with one Wendy Darling around…I won’t go into details, but tears were shed and curses were uttered by me.One of the most engaging characters in this book is the one who can’t even speak- Tink. Tinker Bell is often depicted as a jealous, mean little thing and she certainly can be, but in Tiger Lily she’s given such depth and complexities. This book isn’t all about Tiger Lily and Peter’s romance though. Anderson offers some very thought-provoking exploration surrounding the white Englanders who come to Neverland and try to “civilize” the Natives. MY FINAL THOUGHTS: There’s so much more I could say about why I LOVE this book, but I won’t go on and on. Just know that Tiger Lily has wow’d, moved and enraptured me completely with its superbly crafted story, irresistible characters and bittersweet loveliness. An absolute MUST read!

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