Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Tiger Lily is unlike anyone else in her tribe; they are cautious of her.  The Sky Eaters are warned to stay away from the Lost Boys.  They are strange and dangerous.  But one night, after rescuing an English man from a shipwreck, Tiger Lily comes face to face with Peter Pan, the leader of the Lost Boys.  Tiger Lily is pulled into their world, and begins to ignore the changes that are beginning to take place around her.

This was an interesting, thoughtful interpretation of Peter Pan.  It's a slow moving story.  It unfolds leisurely, and there aren't really any intense or dramatic moments that have you on the edge of your seat.  Even though there are murderers and love and betrayal.  It's all very subdued.

Tiger Lily was told from the perspective of Tinker Bell.  Faeries, in this world, cannot speak, but have the ability to read others emotions and memories.  Tinker Bell has attached herself to Tiger Lily, who for the most part ignores her, and sees the entire story unfold.

The island of Neverland in this story seems for the most part, quite a regular island.  With the exception of fairies and mermaids.  And the fact that no one ever ages.  But you have the native people of the island, who live through hunting and fishing and some farming, and then there are the outsiders, the English people, who show up every now and then in their ships when they get lost, but go away again.  The pirates were all originally English, as were the Lost Boys.  It's not clear where Peter came from.  He stole a lot of the boys from the pirates.

The story of Peter Pan that we recognize is going on (fights with the pirates, Wendy showing up and taking Peter's affection), but there's a whole other aspect to the book as well.  Tiger Lily discovers a shipwreck early on, and rescues the only survivor, a man named Phillip.  Tiger Lily does this against the wishes of her people, who are afraid of catching the aging sickness.  As punishment, Tiger Lily is promised in marriage to a boy from her tribe so she will become more "tame."  Phillip is later supposedly killed by the pirates.  Tiger Lily's adopted father's name is Tik Tok, who is the shaman of the village.  He is also described as being both male and female.  He is male, but dresses as a woman and takes careful care of his hair, which he keeps long, unlike the other men.  This is accepted.

Later, Phillip, who escaped, stumbles into the village and is taken in.  As he begins to get well, he does what a typical English missionary tries to do - tell the heathens about the glory of God and the promise of heaven.  The village begins to change dramatically, but Tiger Lily is so distracted by this point by Peter and the Lost Boys she hardly notices.  It isn't until Tik Tok is forced to forgo his woman's clothes and cut his hair, which breaks him, does Tiger Lily realize what's happening right in front of her.

Tiger Lily is a strong and stubborn girl.  She has a very hard time showing emotion, and sometimes even feeling emotion.  Kindness and being nurturing does not come naturally to her, which is what Peter and the Lost Boys were really looking for when they looked for a girl.  They come to love her, but more as a member of the tribe.  Peter loves her, but is also intimidated and threatened by her.

Throughout the whole book, the undertone is that Tiger Lily is no accepted for who she is.  She is looked at strangely among the other Sky Eaters.  She doesn't fit in.  She's not enough of a girl for Peter and the Lost Boys, and in the end, they chose Wendy over her.  The only one who accepts Tiger Lily as herself in Tik Tok, her friend Pine Sap, and Tinker Bell.  It takes a very long time, and a lot of heartbreak, for Tiger Lily to realize that she had people who accepted her the whole time.

Although the ending is kind of uplifting, I felt this was all in all a sad story.  You can tell this magical place's time, where people stop aging and there are faeries and mermaids, is coming to an end.

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