My original review can be found here: http://www.yourentertainmentcorner.com/?p=27517.
Tiger Lily is a love story—though not your typical love story where things work out in the end. There is betrayal, lies and distrust not only between the main characters, but the secondary characters who will touch your heart as well. Because it comes from a place of innocence, the love isn’t fickle; it’s genuine, real and everlasting. Tiger Lily knows what it means to be loved, but Peter Pan is inexperienced. He thinks he knows what it means to love, but I think he doesn’t find out its true meaning until he meets Tiger Lily.
This book takes a dive into the magical world of Neverland, revealing the mystery behind the supernatural aspect. The people who inhabit Neverland are people like any other, except they stop aging at a certain point in life. And there happens to be mermaids and faeries. So ok, there is some touch of magic but I didn’t feel Neverland was magical or mystical when reading Tiger Lily. I was expecting our narrator, Tinker Bell, to sprinkle pixie dust on the lost boys so they could fly and take off on rambunctious adventures. That’s not what this book is about. Neverland is a secondary character used as the backdrop to the complexities of life in a strange place where the norm is anything but.
I didn’t get how profound the love between Tiger Lily and Peter was at first, but once I reached the final page of the novel, I realized how strong a love like theirs must be to stand against outside forces. Tiger Lily is a brave, strong… tomboy. She’s not like most girls in her village and that’s what makes her stand out as a heroine. While readers of this genre are used to their heroines being sweet, love struck girls with a touch of sense about them, Tiger Lily doesn’t fit into that mold. She is who she is and doesn’t apologize for it. It’s a characteristic that will make readers fall in love with her. Though we aren’t the only ones touched by her simplicity and genuine heart…
You would expect a love story to be romantic and fluffy or full of butterflies and unicorns, yet Tiger Lily is anything but—it’s gritty, raw, and real, with characters that are fleshed out and fully developed. There is no sugarcoating the lives of Tiger Lily, Peter and the lost boys. Often, I found myself wanting to feed and bathe the lost boys after reading about Tiger Lily’s first encounter with them. (Those poor boys need a mother!) That’s when you know an author is doing a job well done. While there isn’t the familiar style of romance, I do believe the novel has a romantic feel. It’s in the prose; the way Anderson laces words together to weave a picture of the climate, environment, and emotions of the characters.
I found myself returning to the Disney tale of Peter Pan I know—Captain Hook with his dashing red coat, and hat with feather flying proudly; the ticking crocodile hunting him for another taste of his flesh; and our beloved telepathic Tinker Bell. But Anderson’s reimagining is so far from the animated version that you might believe them to be real. I had to remind myself I was reading fiction and Neverland wasn’t some elusive island in the Atlantic Ocean. It’s inevitable that you’ll fall in love with Peter (as it seems everyone does but Captain Hook), but you’ll also fall in love with Tiger Lily and Tinker Bell. You get what Peter sees in them and why he is so taken with Tiger Lily. As an aside, Wendy’s introduction into the story brought about an interesting reaction in me. Again, I had to remind myself this was fictional and I didn’t have to hate the poor girl. But I did—fiercely.
There is no insta-love or we-are-destined-for-one-another type of reveling in this tale. The love comes later, and isn’t forceful. It sneaks up on the reader as well as the characters. The romance between Tiger Lily and Peter develops slowly like a smoldering fire. They have a real love—one that transcends betrayal, time and distance. I was just as heartbroken as Tiger Lily and Peter but could see both sides of the story. Their story (and knowing their hearts, thanks to Tink) is what gave me hope, even until the final word, that their love would survive any trials or tribulations thrown in front of them. Tiger Lily is why I love reading!
Anderson has written one of the most beautiful love stories, full of hope and despair. The themes of acceptance, conformity, and reciprocity are subtle yet hard hitting. I admit a few passages made me wonder just where the author was going with certain situations, but everything makes sense in the end. Although the story does not end as I would have liked it to, the ending is well done and satisfying. You may even shed a tear or two. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants a different take on the typical YA tale. This isn’t your everyday romance novel; it’s a love story. It’s heartbreaking, yet hopeful. It’s inspiring yet despairing. You’ll rejoice over young love, wince at the harsh realities of life in Neverland, and hold out hope for the undying force which invades the hearts of us all—love.