Every so often a book will tug on my heartstrings and make me reflect. I will usually find reasons to fall in love with whatever I am reading, but some books I don’t even have to look for the reasons. I will fall head first in love with them without apprehension or regard. These books have something to them, some sort of magical quality that makes me feel invested into the story and it takes me some time to let it go once I am done reading it. When I finish a book that has captured me, I will turn that last page, stroke the back cover, sigh, put it in my lap and just hold it. Sometimes I may reread the last few pages, putting myself into a denial of actually completing it. All of the elements need to be aligned for this to happen; it can’t just have a great beginning, a good middle and a mediocre ending. It is a hard thing to happen, in my opinion, because books are so personal. There are many situations that I have come across where I thought a book was horrible and millions upon millions of people may disagree with me.
It’s been a while since I have come across a book that has not only just been a good book, but has made me fall in love with it. I have been lucky to date with having three books recommended to me that has captured me and before I knew it, I was in love. I want to talk about one of them today.
Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson was a recommendation from Alyssa over from Books Take You Places. Go read her blog. Really; but before you do though, finish this first. This was a book that broke my heart in places, like really broke it all over the floor. I am going to attempt to speak about it without spoiling it for anyone as well as say some other positive things so one would actually want to read it. I have a feeling not everyone loves the sad feels like I do!
Most people are familiar with Peter Pan and Wendy and the many, many, variations there are concerning them. Most people, but not all, may remember Tiger Lily. She was the native girl who in most variations is jealous of Wendy and Peter, but for the most part that is all we know. In this story we are able to learn about Tiger Lily, her beginnings and her life; we learn this through the narration of Tinker Bell. Tink as she is later known, has been with Tiger Lily for a while, watching her grow and shares a unique relationship with her. She was raised in a village by the village shaman, who is really a woman trapped in a man’s body. He cherishes his hair, wears womens clothing, and is all around a gentle spirit. She has two close friends in the village, although most of the residents are apprehensive of her.
There are so many things I can write about this novel, but I don’t want to give anything away. As Tink says early on, “Let me tell you something straight off. This is a love story, but not like any you’ve heard. The boy and the girl are far from innocent. Dear lives are lost. And good doesn’t win. In some places, there is something ultimately good about endings. In Neverland, that is not the case.”
I would rather focus on the love story than anything else. I am a sucker for a good love story. I am even more of a sucker for a good love story that doesn’t neccesarily have the ending I would want. This fulfilled both requirements. Tiger Lily was so used to being surrounded by people, but being alone. Peter was used to being in charge, but not knowing what to do with the responsibility. They both needed something from each other and their story of falling in love is full of bittersweet moments. The sweetness, innocence, and the reprecussions of their actions are all told through Tink. She is able to put the words to their feelings, even when they themselves don’t know how. Their love was consuming, like a wildfire in a windstorm. Tiger Lily puts it best when she tells Peter, “Sometimes I can’t see myself when I’m with you. I can only just see you.”
I didn’t expect to like Tiger Lily, as a character, as much as I did; I was always a fan of the Wendy/Peter pairing. I loved her. I loved her spirit, I loved her determination, and her willingness to do what she felt was right no matter the cost to her own self. I thought as a female lead, she was a wonderful character, not entirely good and not at all bad. She made some poor choices, but who hasn’t growing up? Even in Neverland, a place where people don’t generally grow up, we can watch her grow through her experiences.
The ending wasn’t all sad, and I would say it really did end as it should. Sometimes the ones we love the most may not be the ones that we are supposed to be with. I would say the ending was bittersweet. Everyone likes a love story where Boy meets Girl, Girl falls in love with Boy, they live happily ever after. I personally sometimes find that some of the best stories remind you that love is sometimes something you hold onto as a memory, tucked away in a dark corner to be brought out when we are alone.