Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson
Published by HarperCollins on July 3rd, 2012
Shelve It: Goodreads
Before Peter Pan belonged to Wendy, he belonged to the girl with the crow feather in her hair…
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.
Tiger Lily was absolutely everything I was hoping for, and more. Anderson perfectly captured the spirit of one of my favourite tales, and at the same time, managed to create something completely imaginative and new. With characters that came alive off the pages, a plot that left me breathless and an ending that captured a piece of my heart forever, Tiger Lily is the Peter Pan retelling I never knew I always wanted.
The reason Tiger Lily was so successful was because Anderson managed to capture Tiger Lily, Peter Pan and the Lost Boys in a way that was both exhilarating and tragic. A little frantic, slightly scatterbrained, and a lot afraid, Peter as the fearless leader was pure perfection. Constantly walking the line between being absolutely terrified of failing and needing to have everyone believe in his infallibility, Peter was the best at playing pretend: pretending he wasn’t afraid, pretending he knew what he was doing, and pretending that Tiger Lily’s inability to confide in him or praise his successes didn’t hurt his feelings. As for the Lost Boys, I think Anderson described them the best:
There was a joyfulness and – at the same time – a fragility about each of them. They were sloppy and uncared for and wildly alert and full of energy.
Watching Peter and the Lost Boys try their best to live carefree lives, while constantly looking over their shoulders in fear of the pirates, was heartbreaking; I so badly wanted to comfort them and to provide them with a safe place where they knew they wouldn’t be harmed.
And then there’s Tiger Lily. Stubborn, stoic and wild Tiger Lily. A little beast, she had always been a little different from the other children in her village. She carried her Otherness like a badge, though, and used it to keep a damper on her emotions.
Maybe all of her strangeness, her curse, her always feeling like an outsider, had all existed so that she could belong here, with Peter…
So while she found herself falling for Peter and wishing she could be the companion that removed his eternal loneliness, she struggled putting those feelings into words. Her constant battles with herself, where she regretted not saying anything, hurt my heart a little more each time. She loved Peter enough to see him in every part of the jungle, but she just didn’t know how to tell him and she knew that meant he was pulling away.
I absolutely loved how Anderson explained various Peter Pan staples – like the ticking crocodile – and how she expertly wove elements of the well-known tale into a brand new story. I adored Tik Tok and will be forever slightly angry with Tiger Lily for abandoning him during his time of need. I loved the quirkiness of Tiger Lily’s tribe, the Sky Eaters, and how considerate they were despite their abrasiveness. I loved the mysteries of Neverland and how Hook’s past made me pity the man who would become the monster that obsessed about boys. I loved that Tiger Lily literally caused me to suck in my breath during a particularly devastating moment and that I didn’t see the end coming, even though I always knew the ultimate outcome.
It’s fortunate that Tiger Lily is narrated by Tinker Bell, because by the end, I needed that slight distance between narrator and heroine to protect my already damaged heart. While Tiger Lily foreshadows an unhappy ending from the first few pages, you get so caught up in the wonder and excitement and danger of the plot that, for a minute, you forget. You forget that things don’t end well, and that’s what makes Peter’s betrayal hurt all the worse.
Absolutely magical, I loved Tiger Lily. I loved it even though I couldn’t talk about it for a few days without tearing up. I loved it even though I will never be able to look at Wendy the same way, ever again. I loved it even though Peter broke my heart. And I loved it because of all these things; because it made me feel.