Sometimes I think that maybe we are just stories. Like we may as well just be words on a page, because we’re only what we’ve done and what we are going to do.
Tiger Lily has been on my to-read shelf for the longest time. I’ve wanted to read this book since 2013, but for one reason or the other I never got my hands on it. Everyone I know who’s read this book has fallen in love with it, talking about how heartbreaking it is and how it’s one of the most beautiful book they’ve ever read. So naturally, I was scared; scared that I wouldn’t like it as much as everyone else did, scared that my expectations were, at this point, too high and could never be met. Alas, just like it happened with Marchetta’s On The Jellicoe Road , I stand corrected. My expectations were not just met, they were surpassed and I couldn’t be happier.
Tiger Lily is a Peter Pan re-telling, following the story of Tiger Lily and her life in the village, meeting the lost boys and Peter and falling in love with him. Told from Tinker Bell’s POV, a faerie who’s been with Tiger Lily since the former was a little girl, it’s an enchanting story, a different perspective of one of my favourite fairytales.
While Tiger Lily can definitely be described as a “romance book” it’s so, so much more than that. Tiger Lily’s relationships with her father, the other villagers, Tinker Bell, her traits and personality are just – if not more – as explored as her relationship to Peter and his lost boys. This book covers so many important issues – forced marriage, the english colonisation, gender identity and fluidity and coming to terms with it, the loss of loved ones, the repercussions of taking a life – so, please, don’t call it “just a love story”.
One of the aspects of the book that I ended up loving the most, was the one I was first disappointed to find out; Tinker Bell being the narrator of the story. At first, I thought it would take away from it, that the story would somehow lose its magic now that it wasn’t told from Tiger Lily’s point of view. Now that I’ve finished the book, I can see why this did not only work out, but it was probably the wisest decision Anderson could have made it. Tinker Bell and her skillful narration made it possible and easy for us to see into the hearts of Tiger Lily and Peter, of the pirates and the villagers, of Wendy, the lost boys and the mermaids.
Of all the things I loved about this book, my favourite and most loved by far is Tiger Lily. Wild, untamed Tiger Lily, with her messy hair and her greedy heart. Brave, courageous Tiger Lily, whose heart and passion and vibrant soul were too much even for a boy like Peter, lonely, “cursed” Tiger Lily. My heart felt, beat for her every step of the way. She crawled her way into my heart and will now forever be one of my favourite characters.
“Maybe I just love some of you. Maybe not enough.”
Tiger Lily blinked at him, and she didn’t understand how anyone could only love a part. Her greedy heart didn’t work that way.
I enjoyed Anderson’s writing so much, I admired her ability to weave new elements into a well-known and adored story. All of her characters have a depth and a darkness in them that we do not often see in YA literature, especially re-tellings. Hook is no longer just a villain; he is a sad old man, whose dreams have now haunted him and he believes Peter’s death to be his salvation. Peter himself is no longer the hero; he is scared and often reckless, and his love for his lost boys runs deeper than blood. Even if you – just like I – spent your entire childhood watching and re-watching Peter Pan, you will find yourself in awe in front of these fresh, layered and well-explored characters.
-For the girls with messy hair and thirsty hearts.