The story of Peter Pan, Tinkerbell, Wendy Darling, and yes, Tiger Lily is re-imagined with an anything-but-Disney feel in this intriguing YA novel. I picked this book up and wondered if it were possible to make the idea on the book jacket work, and I was very pleasantly surprised. It’s nothing like any other version of this story, and I love it.
The ill-fated love between Peter and Tiger Lily and the eventual arrival of Wendy on the island of Neverland is told by Tinkerbell – an unusual and clever choice. She is a mute and endearing, insect-like fairy who is as devoted to Tiger Lily as she is to Peter, and her ability to understand the thoughts of humans give her unique power as narrator. Tiger Lily herself is a sympathetic and often frustrating character. But above all, Peter Pan shines in an enchanting and believable makeover as the brave, yet insecure, leader of a band of lonely, lost boys desperate for both love and safety.
The writing is poetic and tight, with a very Native-American sensibility to the language. The plot is tightly woven with just the right amount of tension and great pacing. The themes are thoughtful and not overdone: the nature of belief, especially within groups/communities, the nature of love and why sometimes people who love each other can’t stay together, and the unfairness in the laws of nature/time. The effects of forcing beliefs on individuals and bullying are also explored.