Sunday, January 30, 2022

Tigers, Not Daughters by Samantha Mabry


Wild and beautiful, the Torres girls catch a lot of attention in their community because of their tragic homelife and unpredictable ways. The boys across the street watch them constantly and decide to follow when the four girls run away. This results in the girls being immediately found and brought back, which has the indirect consequence of causing the eldest, Ana, to die.

There are three sisters remaining. Jessica, the next-oldest, now assumes responsibility as the primary breadwinner while navigating an emotionally abusive relationship. Iridian, the middle daughter, suffers under the yoke of her guilt and unresolved conflicts with Ana, and retreats first into fiction and then into writing, where she explores the passions she doesn't feel confident or safe enough to pursue. And Rosa, the youngest and kindest, is haunted by visions of a hyena.

TIGERS, NOT DAUGHTERS reminded me a lot of I AM NOT YOUR PERFECT MEXICAN DAUGHTER, especially with how grief is experienced (or repressed) in the Latinx community. This was especially noticeable with poor Jessica, who turned to anger as a defense mechanism. The magic realism elements were really well done and added an almost Gothic element to the story, what with all the animal sightings and ghosts.

This is such an unusual book that it's really hard to compare it to anything else. The characters stand on their own and the ending is bittersweet. If you like stories about difficult girls navigating through adolescence and learning important life lessons while still being permitted to deviate from the path, I think you'll really enjoy this book. It's a short quick read but it's the kind of story that lingers.

3.5 out of 5 stars

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