Release date: 3 July 2012
Publisher: Harper Collins Children's Books
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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.
Honestly, I was never a big 'Peter Pan' fan. I've never read the J. M. Barrie original, so note that I'm referring to the Disney animated movie when I say this. While I loved Neverland and its crazy characters, I didn't like the Darling children at all even as a kid, and found them pretty annoying. So when I heard of a new YA novel set in this world that focused on Tiger Lily, I was determined to read it. And the moment I read the excerpt on the back, I was hooked. It completely surpassed my expectations.
The Neverland that Anderson has re-imagined is dark and lush and detailed. I don't know how much sprang from her own imagination and how much was adopted from the original, but it's impossible to get enough of the world, written as it is in her gorgeous prose.
This is a book about loneliness: As the wild daughter of the eccentric village Shaman, Tiger Lily is both feared and respected, and she immediately connects with Peter, perhaps the loneliest of them all, who is charismatic and wild and serious and naive all at once and everything I could have hoped for in a Peter Pan. There is the heavy feeling of inevitability everywhere; you know, from the very first line and your own preconceptions of Peter, that something is going to happen, and it laced the book with a melancholy quality that had my heart pounding.
This is also a book about fear. Fear that can come from outside: sometimes obviously, in the form of shipwrecked Philip, an 'Englander' who disrupts the balance of Tiger Lily's village. Sometimes internally, in the form of Wendy Darling, who scares Tiger Lily in a way the jungle does not. There is the fear of vulnerability; of the tentative awkwardness of first love between two people who have lived a long time but are children at heart, at once impossibly brave and scared senseless.
I could go on forever. This is a book about everything I could wish for in a Young Adult novel. It's a book about being human. All the favorites are here, written with layers upon layers of complexity. Captain Hook and his right-hand man Smee are at times no worse than Peter himself. Wendy is foolish and naive and frustrating but more pure of heart and intent than Tiger Lily and Peter can ever hope to be. At one point Tinkerbell, who narrates the book, muses that fairies only have one love; that their hearts don't have the room for the emotion that human ones do. But I disagree. She is so fiercely loyal and passionate, so understanding of the hearts of others in a way that is only possible by watching it from above, that I despaired for her just as strongly as I did for Tiger Lily, and I don't think the book would have worked so well narrated by anyone else.
This was my first Jodi Lynn Anderson book, and it definitely won't be my last. It emotionally stunned me, and I don't think any review of mine could do it justice. In other words: Read this. It's quite introspective and maybe not for everyone, but give it a chance and you probably won't regret it. Tiger Lily is one of my favorite reads of 2012 so far, and it lingers like a bruise on your heart. And if you're wondering if it changed my perception of the Darling children, I would have to say no, it made it worse in the sense that I don't think I can ever look at Wendy again without thinking of Anderson's fierce, wild, vulnerable Tiger Lily. :)