By Jodi Lynn Anderson
Published 2012 by HarperTeen
Before there was Wendy, there was Tiger Lily - a headstrong Native girl who'd been warned to beware of Peter Pan. But then, they met and Tiger Lily felt something she'd never felt with her tribe mates before - acceptance and, perhaps, love. What will this mean for her future? And what about Wendy Darling?
This book has been on my radar for quite some time - I'm a big fan of retold tales, or books that offer new insights into lesser-known characters from other books. I remember hearing about this one prior to its release and ogling when it came into the library and wishing I had time right at that moment to just devour it. Well, I didn't want to put it off any longer and picked it up over the Memorial Day weekend. I don't feel quite as enthusiastic about it as I did prior to reading, but I still found some things to like.
I guess I missed the memo that this was narrated by Tinkerbell and not Tiger Lily herself. At first, I was not pleased with this discovery - isn't this supposed to be the untold story of Tiger Lily and Peter Pan? Wouldn't it be better told by one of the people directly involved? But, as the story moved on, I really came to appreciate Tinkerbell's narration. I was not ever a particular fan of Tinkerbell - until I read Peter and the Starcatchers. Then, I fell in love with her. Though this incarnation of Tink is not as spunky and daring as that one, I found this version to be insightful and articulate and a joy to hear from. Having finished the book, I actually think the story is stronger from being told by Tinkerbell - Tiger Lily's hardheadedness and wide range of emotions may have presented her and Peter's story in a very different light. In Tinkerbell's voice, the story comes off beautifully - a story of an outsider who finds acceptance only to have it snatched away from her. I loved the hesitancy of Tiger Lily and her confusion in her dealings with Peter - honestly, I don't think Peter is painted in a very flattering light here, and it works really well that way. I can understand the objections to making this into a love story - in the original, Peter and Tiger Lily are too young for this - but I thought it was well-done. Actually, I'm not entirely convinced that it was a love story in the traditional sense - yes, there is kissing and Peter talks of making Tiger Lily his wife, but I think it's fairly obvious that he doesn't really understand any of those things and is simply deeply enamored with the connection he's forged with Tiger Lily. Additionally, the prose in this book is absolutely lovely. This is one of the first books in a long time from which I wanted to copy out beautiful quotes to treasure.
Despite all those positives, this is not a perfect book. Some story lines didn't work well for me - the missionary, Tiger Lily's forced marriage to Giant, the exile of Tik Tok. I had very high expectations for this book and it didn't quite meet them all, but I found it a lovely take on a classic tale.