Tigers, Not Daughters by Samantha Mabry
Algonquin Young Readers; 2020; 288 pages
Content Warnings: Strong language, alcohol, violence, emotional and physical abuse, depression, anxiety, loss of a loved one, paranormal scenes
About the Author: “Samantha was born four days before the death of John Lennon. She grew up in Dallas, playing bass guitar along to vinyl records in her bedroom after school, writing fan letters to rock stars, doodling song lyrics into notebooks, and reading big, big books. In college at Southern Methodist University, she majored in English literature, minored in Spanish, and studied Latin and classics. After that, she went on to receive a master’s degree in English from Boston college. These days, she teaches at a community college and spends as much time as possible in the west Texas desert. A FIERCE AND SUBTLE POISON (Algonquin Young Readers, Spring 2016) was her first novel. ALL THE WIND IN THE WORLD, a Western, was published in the Fall of 2017 and was nominated for the National Book Award for Young Peoples’ Literature. TIGERS, NOT DAUGHTERS released in the Spring of 2020 and received six starred trade reviews.” (Bio taken from author’s website)
The Torres sisters live consumed by trauma and guilt. Their mother died during childbirth, leaving them to take care of their grief-stricken and depressed father, Rafe. Then, tragedy strikes when the oldest sister, Ana, dies after falling from her window. A year later, the three sisters— Jessica, Iridian and Rosa— are consumed with grief, and their lives remain haunted by Ana’s memory. Jessica takes on the weight of keeping her family together, Iridian remains resentful toward their father and spends her days on the couch reading Ana’s old books, while the youngest, Rosa, is the most faithful and curious of them all. When strange events start happening—mysterious laughter and unexplainable shadows—the sisters begin to wonder if Ana is haunting them. The sisters must confront their trauma, put aside their differences, and come together, if they ever hope to figure out what Ana is trying to tell them.
Tigers, Not Daughters is a powerful and atmospheric story of three sisters whose strength and resilience shine through. From the first chapter, Samantha Mabry beautifully establishes the bleak setting of the San Antonio neighborhood and the palpable grief of the Torres family. Mabry’s language is poetic and lyrical as she uses interwoven narratives to explore Jessica, Iridian, and Rosa’s lives. This book is raw, as it doesn’t shy away from portraying and exploring tough topics like grief, depression, and abuse; but it’s also beautiful, as Mabry explores the meaning of resilience, love, and sisterhood. Jessica, Iridian, and Rosa are all strong, independent women, but above all, they are real. Are they perfect? No, but that is what makes their characters and arcs so compelling and thoughtful. Between the lyrical language and blurring the lines between reality and fantasy, this book is an amazing representation of the magical realism style and is honestly unlike any other YA novel I have ever read. This is an absolutely stunning book and should not be missed!
(Pine Reads Review would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for sending us an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Any quotes are taken from an advanced copy and may be subject to change upon final publication.)
PRR Writer, Tyler Steffen