The eternal Peter Pan fan in me is kicking myself for not reading Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson earlier but I’m so happy to have enjoyed my time with this story these past few days. I decided to read Tiger Lily right before my birthday because Andrew had purchased tickets to take me to see Finding Neverland on Broadway and I wanted to get into the Peter Pan spirit. Tiger Lily is a YA novel inspired by J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan and it’s told entirely from Tinker Bell’s point of view. It tells Tiger Lily’s story and it captures the relationship between Peter Pan and she prior to Wendy Darling arriving in Neverland and essentially ruining everything between them, but it is so much more than just that.
Tiger Lily examines relationships such as those between family, communities, enemies and the stuggle to identify oneself in addition to the romance. Tinker Bell becomes fascinated by Tiger Lily once she realizes what an atypical girl she is and begins following her around and conveying her observances to the reader. She narrates Tiger Lily’s relationship with Tick Tok, the head of the Sky Eaters tribe, which is simultaneously complicated and easy. Tick Tok is Tiger Lily’s father figure and because she was taken in as the tribe leaders daughter, the people in her community tolerate her but she never truly fits in. This is why Tiger Lily ends up finding herself when she meets Peter and his Lost Boys. Peter doesn’t show up until much later in the stotry after we truly have a handle on Tiger Lily’s sense of character.
I loved the traditionally swapped gender norms between Tiger Lily and Tick Tok. Tiger Lily is described as masculine and seemingly unfeeling, especially in comparison to Wendy Darling, while Tick Tok has longer hair and tends to wear dresses. Later in the book, there is a huge issue that the town faces with Tick Tok after an outsider points out his feminitiy and it’s explored so well. I was nearly in tears during that part and I don’t want to give it away but trust me, it’s powerful.
There are less magical elements present in Anderson’s novel than there are in the classic Peter Pan tale but it really worked for the story she told. There are still mermaids and fairies and I love the character development she provides for Tinker Bell. It helps explain why Tinker Bell resents Wendy so much and how she and Peter’s interactions began. Anderson reworked all of the characters to be slightly older than they are in the traditional tale and it allowed for an emotional comig of age story documenting the challenges one faces when transitioning from young adulthood into adulthood.
Final Thoughts: Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson is an emotional coming of age story that draws inspiration from Peter Pan focusing on Tiger Lily’s journey from young adulthood into adulthood. The story is narrated by Tinker Bell who struggles to make sense of the complicated relationships Tiger Lily has in her life. The book is rife with body image, societal and social issues and the end results will be impactful. Expect less magic in Neverland and more magic in the nuances and relationships that make characters human.
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.
From the New York Times bestselling author of Peaches comes a magical and bewitching story of the romance between a fearless heroine and the boy who wouldn’t grow up. (via Goodreads)