- The plot and tone. This book is sad, dark, and poignant to perfection, mostly due to the realistic plot. People die. Life isn't always fair. The good guys don't always win. We don't always get what we want, or what we thought we wanted. These are basic truisms of life that most YA books don't even attempt to glance over, let alone tackle head on. Anderson's "Tiger Lily" is completely different. While it is set in Neverland where faeries flit about and people don't age, the characters, their problems, and their reactions to those problems are so real, we could have been talking about a girl who lives right here on my block.
- The love. The way Anderson developed the love between Tiger Lily and Peter was amazing. The personality clashes, the arguments, the immortality of first love, learning to be yourself while being with someone else--all those things we all experience in our lives at one point or another and carry with us every day--Anderson is able to put to paper. This is easily the most realistic, honest, believable romance I have probably ever read in YA fiction.
- Tiger Lily. Tiger Lily is brave enough to be herself despite the judgment she receives from those around her. She doesn't let a boy tell her how she should be, or pretend to be weak just so he can feel strong. So many times in YA fiction, especially when dealing with romance, the girls are so reliant on the boys that they are willing to do whatever, be whatever, just so they are allowed the privilege to be loved. It was so refreshing to see a strong female lead who breaks that mold, and doesn't apologize for it either.
- Smee. All the characters in this book are very well developed, but Smee stood out to me as being a wonderfully complex villain. I loved how Anderson took him from his place in the background of the original story and brought him to the forefront as a serial-killer-turned-pirate, complicated and confused and lonely.
- The issues addressed. While the main focus of this book is obviously the interactions between Tiger Lily and Peter, there are so many other messages and issues being addressed under the covers. Here are just a few of the questions Anderson tackles in this tiny book: Is cross-dressing acceptable? What does God really care about when determining if you go to heaven or not? Is conformity for conformity's sake a bad thing? Should a girl be forced to give up all/part of who she is in order to be with someone else? Is it better to be beautiful or strong?
"I could never leave." Pine Sap said.
"Why?" she asked.
Pine Sap shrugged, and gestured in the direction of the village. "Because I think people must be the same everywhere. Only these people are my bones."
Sometimes love means not being able to bear seeing the one you love the way they are, when they're not what you hoped for them.
Sometimes I think maybe we are just stories. Like we may as well just be words on a page, because we're only what we've done and what we are going to do.
5/5 - My gosh I loved this book. Every bit and piece of it felt polished to perfection: the tone, the plot, the pace, the setting, the characters--everything. And the number of issues addressed outside of the romance between Tiger Lily and Peter is just amazing. I cannot recommend this book highly enough, go out and get your hands on a copy as soon as you can. I promise you won't regret it.