March 24, 2020

Tigers, Not Daughters Blog Tour: Review

Tigers, Not Daughters
Author: Samantha Mabry
Genre: YA Contemporary/Magical Realism
Release Date: March 24, 2020
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers


Longlisted for the 2017 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, Samantha Mabry’s “aching, luminous… [and] impossible to forget” (Booklist, starred review) second novel All the Wind in the World garnered stunning praise from The Boston Globe, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Bustle, and many more. Now, solidifying her standing as “one of the most crucial voices in young adult literature” (Bustle), Algonquin is proud to present Mabry’s newest lush, aching, and magical young adult novel TIGERS, NOT DAUGHTERS, which weaves haunted houses, complicated families, prickly girls, and romance into a brilliant blend inspired by her own family and Latinx identity. “Move over, Louisa May Alcott,” says Julia Alvarez, author of In the Time of the Butterflies. “Mabry has written her very own magical Little Women for our times. This is no family of tamed girls but a clan of fierce and fighting young women who will draw readers into their spell. TIGERS, NOT DAUGHTERS is a celebration of the bonds of sisterhood and of the ways we heal by reaching beyond our losses, our brokenness and fears to the love that holds and heals.”
The Torres sisters dream of escape. Escape from their needy and despotic widowed father and from their San Antonio neighborhood, full of old San Antonio families and all the traditions and expectations that go along with them. In the summer after her senior year of high school, Ana, the eldest, falls to her death from her bedroom window. A year later, Jessica, Iridian, and Rosa, are still consumed by grief and haunted by Ana’s memory when strange things start happening around the house: mysterious laughter, mysterious shadows, mysterious writing on the walls. Is Ana really haunting her sisters and trying to send them a message? And what exactly is she trying to say?
Tigers, Not Daughters is a phrase from Shakespeare’s King Lear,” says Mabry, author of three young adult novels now, and a community college writing and Latino literature teacher in Dallas. “In the play, it’s used as an insult, hurled by Albany at Lear’s selfish and disobedient daughters. When I recently heard that phrase spit out with such venom during a production, it struck me—how could I write a story in which this wasn’t an insult, but, in a way, praise? I’ve always been of the mind that some parents frankly deserve to be disobeyed, and I’m sure many young people would agree. And I’ve always been interested in tinkering with various sources of inspiration, such as stories that explore Latinx identity and the various forms of assimilation. I’ve very loosely based the dynamic of the Torres sisters on my mother’s often complicated relationship with her sisters, and on their experience of being a mostly English-speaking Mexican-American family with roots near the US-Mexico border.”
Part family drama, part ghost story, and part love story, TIGERS, NOT DAUGHTERS is a stunning follow-up to All the Wind in the World, firmly establishing Mabry as a novelist not-to-be-missed.

Advance Praise for TIGERS, NOT DAUGHTERS:

–Julia Alvarez, author of How the GarcĂ­a Girls Lost Their Accents
“A moody and unflinching examination of the gritty, tender and impossible parts of people that make them unforgettably whole. You don’t read Samantha Mabry’s books so much as experience them. Ferocious and gorgeously crafted. I loved it.”
Courtney Summers, New York Times bestselling author of Sadie
Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
“Borrowing elements of magical realism and Latinx folklore, this is a story that is often uncomfortable; in its quest to explore grief, family, and the traumas inflicted by each, it lays its characters utterly and unforgettably bare.”
Booklist (Starred Review)
“Mabry speaks gracefully to the transformative power of grief and the often messy (even violent) road to letting go.”
Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
School Library Journal (Starred Review)
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (Starred Review)
“One of the most crucial voices in young adult literature.”
Tigers, Not Daughters is a wonderful new young adult contemporary novel that readers of all kinds are going to love. I don't normally read contemporary fiction but the description mentioned the possibility of one of the sisters haunting the others, I thought I'd give it a shot. I didn't love it as much as I hoped, but it was very well done and other readers are sure to love it.

The main characters - Rosa, Iridian, and Jessica - are sisters who are mourning the recent death of their oldest sister. The majority of the story is told from their individual perspectives in alternating chapters. I really liked getting to know each of the girls throughout the story. They were all realistic and complex with distinct personalities, quirks, and flaws, which I thought made it easy to connect with each of them. We learn a lot about each sister during the story and get to see them change and grow. I liked watching them struggle with normal issues along with processing their grief over the death of their sister. I also liked to see their relationships with each other and some of the other characters change during the story.

The plot was anything wholly original but the author did a good job of putting her own touches on it to make it a little more fresh and new. I won't go into the details of the story line because you get the main idea just from reading the description. I really enjoyed the paranormal aspects of the story - they really made the book better for me personally. The last thing I want to mention is the writing style. I'm not quite sure how to describe it without being confusing. The story is told in multiple ways - from the three sisters' perspectives which are all done in the third person point of view, some parts that are narrated by a boy who knew the Torres family and watches the girls go about their lives, and then there are some parts that are like a general narrative from an omniscient POV and tells the stories of important moments in the girls' lives during the time period of the story. It honestly was a little confusing because it kept bouncing around between all of these perspectives and different days (each chapter generally is begun with who is narrating and the date of the events that are going to happen in that chapter). It confused me a bit, to be honest and it had a negative impact on my experience. I always prefer the first person POV because it allows me to deeply connect with the narrator and I can usually slip inside the character's world easily and early on. With this book, I couldn't slip inside the story like I normally do and I wasn't able to connect on the level I normally do with any of the characters. These added up to not a great experience for me. Don't get me wrong - everything was well done. The characters were realistic, the setting was easy to see in my mind, and the story itself was well written. It's just that I personally didn't "click" with it and couldn't get into it. I'm sure other readers won't have my same issues and will love this book and everything about it. Please remember that these are just my own honest opinions and nothing else. Overall, I think that fans of YA contemporary fiction will really enjoy this book, along with readers who enjoy diverse characters, family dramas, and a bit of the paranormal.
Samantha Mabry credits her tendency toward magical thinking to her Grandmother Garcia, who would wash money in the kitchen sink to rinse off any bad spirits. She teaches writing and Latino literature at a community college in Dallas, where she lives with her husband, a historian, and a cat named Mouse. She is the author of A Fierce and Subtle Poison and All the Wind in the World. Visit her online at or on Twitter: @samanthamabry.


No comments:

Post a Comment