Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Book Report: Tiger Eyes

Summary: Davey has never felt so alone in her life. Her father is dead—shot in a holdup—and now her mother is moving the family to New Mexico to try to recover. Climbing in the Los Alamos canyon, Davey meets the mysterious Wolf, who can read Davey’s “sad eyes.” Wolf is the only person who seems to understand the rage and fear Davey feels. Slowly, with Wolf’s help, Davey realizes that she must get on with her life. But when will she be ready to leave the past behind and move toward the future? Will she ever stop hurting? -- Delacorte Press

I'm in the home stretch for Kathy's Shelf Discovery/Judy Blume Mini Challenge. For those of you who are tired of my Judy Blume reviews, hang in there. I only have two more to post this week! I recently read TIGER EYES, and I can honestly say that I don't know if I read this one as a pre-teen. There were parts of it that rang a bell, but I can't imagine that I wouldn't have remembered this book. I actually think TIGER EYES might be the best Judy Blume book that I read this month!

I admit that, while I absolutely loved TIGER EYES, I've been hesitant to write my review. Not only do I worry about not doing this book justice, but have you read Ms. Skurnick's essay in SHELF DISCOVERY? It is absolutely amazing, and she pretty much said everything there is to say. All I can do is my best, right?

Davey is one of those characters who I can't get out of my mind. As difficult as the teen years are, Davey has to deal with so much more than the ordinary teenager. First of all, her father gets shot and killed while working in his 7-Eleven Store. To make matters even worse, Davey's family lives above the store, so she lives in constant fear. Then, she has to not only cope with the loss of her father, but she also has to see and handle her mother's grief. Finally, her mother decides to move her family to Los Alamos, NM, to live with Davey's aunt and uncle. I only dealt with the moving part as a pre-teen and I thought my life had ended. So, you can imagine how touched I was by Davey and her struggles.

The teenage years really are about change, and TIGER EYES showed how drastic that change can be. Part of what broke my heart about Davey's story was that her mother was in so much pain, she could barely tend to her children. I think being a mother and a wife really made me appreciate Davey's mom's struggles. I didn't find myself judging Davey's mother. Rather, I just wanted her to be able to move on for her sake as well as her children's sake. And while Davey's mother was almost a non-existent factor in her life for awhile, her aunt and uncle more than made up for the parental responsibility with their sense of stability. They were a childless couple who were extremely overprotective, and they lived in constant fear of "what it?" As a teenager, Davey certainly took the brunt end of their worry.

But what I really loved about Davey was that she was a survivor. Even though she was facing so much pain and heartache, she still managed to be smart and spunky (and discover herself in the process.) She doesn't just roll over and accept things -- she actually challenges her aunt and uncle. She learns to balance sensibility with having to have fun.

Throughout the novel, Davey just grows so much as a person. She meets Wolf, a teenage boy who is able to totally relate to her feelings; and with his friendship, Davey realizes that she needs to remember her father as a person and not her father's death. She also realizes through the actions of her aunt and uncle that it's okay to be cautious, but not so much so that you are unable to live.

TIGER EYES was just a fantastic book on so many levels. I found myself crying multiple times. But I also found myself just wrapped up in Judy Blume's writing. This is an extremely powerful book, and Ms. Blume managed to once again realistically capture the emotions of a troubled teenage girl. As wonderful as I think Ms. Blume is, she really outdid herself with this book! In addition to creating a wonderful character in Davey, I love how Ms. Blume touched upon some political issues like the weapons race and even war in general through her use of Los Alamos as the backdrop for this novel. There are so many wonderful themes in this novel which warrant further discussion, especially as they relate to living your life to the fullest.

If you haven't read TIGER EYES, you really should. I consider it a must-read!


Sandy Nawrot said...

Amazingly I did not read this book as a kid. It sounds like it is classic Blume though. Angst and teenage torment, difficult topics, a good message. Nice review!

bermudaonion said...

Judy Blume manages to come up with great story lines and characters over and over again! This sounds like a powerful book.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I totally have to read this. In addition to everything else you said about it, Los Alamos is one of my favorite places ever!

Beth F said...

Great review. I haven't read this one, but it sounds (like Kathy said) very powerful and that she really captured the life of a teen.

Anonymous said...

I posted a Judy Blume review today too! I have now officially read all of her books (I think!. Tiger Eyes was one that I really enjoyed in high school.

Michelle (my books. my life.) said...

I read a ton of Judy Blume but I never heard of this one. I'll have to check it out.