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.
From the New York Times bestselling author of Peaches comes a magical and bewitching story of the romance between a fearless heroine and the boy who wouldn’t grow up.
Do I even need to say why I read this book? Is it not obvious enough? Fine, ok. Clearly, I love me some Peter Pan, if you couldn’t tell already by literally everything on my blog. I have yet to read the original story, though I’d love to one day, but when it comes to the Disney movie and the 2003 adaptation and all of the Disney fairies, I am in love. So picking up this book is not only a no brainer but should be a sure thing for me. And man, did I enjoy this book. It not only reminded me why I love the original fairytale but reminded me why I love YA retellings, and even then it felt different from all the other retellings I’ve read. I got to explore a story I love in a new way and it made me fall deeper in love with it. I had constantly heard such great things about this book for years, way before I even decided to pick it up, and I’m glad that there wasn’t any sense of overhype because that would’ve made me so sad. This book didn’t let me down whatsoever.
- My absolute favourite thing about this book was the narration style and how it was in first person, but it wasn’t told by the person you expected to tell it. No, it wasn’t Tiger Lily and it wasn’t Peter, but it was actually Tinkerbell telling the story. Do you have any idea how happy I was when I saw Tink was the narrator? Me, the fairy enthusiast? Ultimate lover of all things Tinkerbell? The person who wants nothing more than a YA retelling with Tinkerbell? Even though it wasn’t actually about Tink the way I’ve always wanted, it counts a whole lot in my book. But what I loved was that it was one of those “stories within a story” kind of narration and Tink was talking to the reader both in present and past tense, which I really liked. I think it’s because you got to see her feelings about what happened with Tiger Lily and Peter in the moment it was happening and afterwards and in my opinion, the dual tenses made Tink a reliable narrator. You could tell that she had specific feelings about both characters, as well as about herself, but she tried to be as objective as possible so the reader can form their own feelings and opinions. But the advantage of having Tink as the narrator is that because she’s so small and can fly literally anywhere, she has that ability to provide you with the whole story from every angle because she’s small enough to hide in the background and just watch everyone. She was definitely partial to Tiger Lily but she spent a lot of time watching the pirates and the lost boys at the burrow as well. And, of course, she watched Peter a lot, too. I loved that we had a narrator that not only knew Neverland and everything it was, but she knew the people who were part of the story very well and because Tink knew them so well it made you, in turn, know them as well as she does. And I also think it’s interesting how Tinkerbell, who we all know is so small that she can only feel one emotion at a time, is such a reliable narrator because she didn’t really let her own personal feelings warp the story she was telling. She loved Peter but she also loved Tiger Lily, and it was interesting to see how she balanced those loves and always managed to put Tiger Lily first and I think that is what made her narrating so important. She was biased, yet unbiased at the same time. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a story being told like this but I absolutely loved it and I would love to see more stories told using this kind of narration.
- The most interesting thing about this story for me, other than what I just said about Tink, was how Anderson put reality into Neverland and it wasn’t the make believe land found in the Second Star to the Right. It made me think that this version of Neverland was actually out there in the world, maybe even somewhere off the coast of North America. I never expected to see this when I entered this world but I enjoyed it so much. And what it did was take what was more of a fairytale and turn it into a story that could be real and, for me, made it easier to believe. Usually when I’m reading a retelling it’s more or less the same fantasy world in which the original fairytale takes place and still has that magical air to it, but never that it’s a world in which I can actually see as truly existing. But the way Anderson wrote Neverland and gave the people who lived in Neverland the knowledge of the rest of the world made everything more believable and realistic. I think just the knowledge of the Western World alone was enough for me and it was something I appreciated. I know that characters such as Hook and Smee, and maybe even Peter and the lost boys, remembered England or wherever they were born, but Tiger Lily and the Sky Eaters wouldn’t have the same knowledge that these characters would’ve in the original tale but it seemed like they did here and again, that’s something I never expected. And other than making the world more realistic, Anderson took so much of the fairytale and debunked it in a way and provided such reasonable explanations for why Peter appeared to be able to fly or why no one aged in Neverland. All of these reasons made so much sense and I loved how it made me believe in the possibility of Neverland more than before. This world building, or maybe world solidifying is a better way to put it, was such a strength for me in this book and I truly don’t think I’d love it the same if this wasn’t the world in which Tiger Lily lived in.
- Oh my god, the fact that Anderson wrote colonization into this story made me lose my mind and blew me away. Never in a million years did I expect to actually see this in a place like Neverland but the way she did it had me screaming because of the historical accuracy. I took this one course in university about the British Empire and a good chunk of that course focused on how the British colonized various parts of the world and had a particular interest in spreading Christianity amongst the natives and the way they did it in history was the exact same way the character Phillip did with the Sky Eaters. And the way you first meet Phillip by seeing him wash up in a shipwreck to Tiger Lily nursing him back to health and him coming to her village gives you the impression that everything about this is relatively harmless; no one ever really knew why the Englishmen kept coming to Neverland but they’d always feared of catching the “aging disease” from them and therefore always stayed away from these people. They were right to be afraid of the English but it’s not because of the aging disease. The initial trust Tiger Lily has for Phillip is the same that the natives felt towards the British throughout history and then when you see what he’s doing with her tribe, slowly earning their trust and teaching them about God and heaven, creating such a happy picture for them, is downright terrifying because of how accurate it is. And seeing everyone around Tiger Lily buying into what he was preaching to them and turning against Tik Tok because he didn’t agree or his lifestyle was different than what Phillip thought it should be broke my heart so much. I still can’t get over what Tik Tok went through because he didn’t deserve any of that. But it makes me think of how many times this has happened in history and how many other Tik Toks there were in the world or how many Tiger Lilys there were that only wanted to save a life but were essentially betrayed by them. And then once Wendy shows up on another ship it’s clear that the entire purpose of these ships constantly showing up in Neverland is to colonize the people. This topic was handle so amazingly well and while I never expected it, it was just phenomenally done, even though colonization is horrible but we all know that anyways.
- While everyone is so familiar with Peter Pan’s character and Wendy’s character, no one has ever been that familiar with Tiger Lily’s character other than the fact that she and Peter had either once been close or she knows a lot about him. She’s always been such a mystery and a secondary character that no one ever really thought of her as playing such a large part in his life like Wendy did, but with this book we now know how important Tiger Lily is. Everyone always thinks of Wendy being Peter’s first love but I think after this book, it’s clear that his first love was Tiger Lily and he was hers. Though it was hard for me to comprehend their love or what it meant at times, part of me wonders if that’s the point. If their love was so complicated and something you can’t really understand at face value but you know it’s there and it’s such a strong force. Peter is definitely the type of person who throws the word “love” around frequently and falls in love 10 times a day, but you could see how different he was around Tiger Lily. I think it was easier to see her love for Peter because Tiger Lily is such a closed off person but finding comfort in being with Peter and even saying the words aloud mean a lot. I loved so much about Tiger Lily’s character and admired her strength and determination and how she did things because she wanted to, but also knew when to do things because of her duty, and I think this is how Peter fell in love with her. Do I think either of them really understood their feelings? Probably not, or at least not in the conventional way I’m used to, but given the environment it makes sense. I will say that I didn’t expect their love story to take such a heartbreaking route but it was important for both of their characters and it’s gonna mess me up for the longest time.
- I actually did not enjoy the version of Wendy that I got to see in this book but I think part of that is because I felt so strongly for Tiger Lily that seeing Wendy intrude and take Peter away (and I mean literally take him away) wasn’t something I wanted to see this time around. Sure, in my Disney movie and 2003 adaptation, I’d love nothing more than to see Peter leave Neverland to be with Wendy, but I also know how important Neverland is to him and the idea of not growing up. But Wendy took that from him, or I guess I can say that colonization took that away from Tiger Lily, and it’s something I still can’t believe. Don’t get me wrong, it made sense to the story and for the final development in Tiger Lily’s character, but it was so damn heartbreaking. I just can’t believe Peter actually left Neverland. My heart is in shambles.
- I kind of expected the pirates and Hook to have a bigger role in this retelling and even though I’m perfectly fine with their involvement I missed the classic Pan/Hook rivalry that I’m used to.
THE BOTTOM LINE
- This has to be one of the best spins on a fairytale retelling I’ve ever read and I’m so glad that it’s based on one of my favourites. Jodi Lynn Anderson brought so much belief and reality into Neverland that I don’t think I can look at it the same way as before. But most of all, knowing a new side of this tale and seeing how important Tiger Lily truly is is what sets this book apart. I’ve always believed in fairies but now I believe in Tiger Lily, too.
BONUS: how this book made me feel in a GIF
ABOUT THE BOOK
Title: Tiger Lily
Author: Jodi Lynn Anderson
Release Date: July 3, 2012
Pages: 292 (Paperback)
Until next time,
What did you think of the book? Leave a comment below!