Saturday, March 21, 2020

Tigers not Daughters by Samantha Mabry - OPTIONAL

Tigers Not Daughters by Samantha Mabry, 280 pages. Algonquin, 2020. $18.

Language: R (11 swears 26 'f'); Mature Content: PG13 (off page teen sex); Violence: PG 13.



4 teenaged sisters - Ana, Jessica, Iridian and Rosa. Their mother died just after Rosa was born - their father, Rafe, is abusive - emotionally certainly, physically probably - he's so needy - comes home drunk, not taking care of the girls, they want him gone. They tried to run away but Rafe found them and brought them back. A few months later, Ana, the oldest, who recently finished her senior year in high school, fell to her death from her second store bedroom window. Intentional? Accident? Why? A year later, Rafe is even more lost in himself. The girls are coping the best they can, and have each found avenues - Jessica obsesses over Ana, collecting everything she can find - books, papers, even hairs; Iridian writes, and Rosa is driven to find the hyena that is missing from the Zoo - she thinks there’s a connection. Haunted by Ana's memory, the girls start to experience crazy things in the house - mysterious laughter, writing on the walls, the boys across the street have even seen Ana’s ghost outside the house, knocking on a window. Has she returned? What could she want?

Samantha Mabry tells the story from several different perspectives, and in a non-linear format - thank goodness the chapters had titles, or identified the perspective, and/or a date. Short chapters keep it engaging and exciting. The ghost story is creepy and scary; the issues involve abuse, loss, family, hope, grieving. I did think it might be a retelling of King Lear (Tigers not Daughters is a line from Lear) but I couldn’t see a connection other than that title. It’s a heavy read with a lot in it. I’d like to read more by this author.

Lisa Librarian

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