Review of Tigers, Not Daughters by Samantha Mabry @algonquinyr @samanthamabry

Tigers, Not Daughters

Samantha Mabry

March 24, 2020

Algonquin Young Readers

Blurb: In a stunning follow-up to her National Book Award-longlisted novel All the Wind in the World, Samantha Mabry weaves an aching, magical novel that is one part family drama, one part ghost story, and one part love story. 

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 oldest sister, falls to her death from her bedroom window. A year later, her three younger sisters, Jessica, Iridian, and Rosa, are still consumed by grief and haunted by their sister’s memory. Their dream of leaving Southtown now seems out of reach. But then strange things start happening around the house: mysterious laughter, mysterious shadows, mysterious writing on the walls. The sisters begin to wonder if Ana really is haunting them, trying to send them a message—and what exactly she’s trying to say.

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As Tigers, Not Daughters begins, the Torres sisters have escaped their house and are almost to the bus station when their father shows up. The neighborhood boys, who have claimed to be their protectors, have accidentally caught them in the trap. The sisters are contained once again. In the time between narrative, Ana, the oldest sister falls from her window. Her death devastates the sisters, but she hasn’t left them–entirely.

Samantha Mabry has created a beautiful, lyrical novel that shows love is such a powerful emotion that death cannot contain it. Through four different narrative POVs, the reader follows the remaining three sisters as well as the boys, the would-be protectors, who act as a chorus, a unit. As they have always watched Ana, it is to the boys that Ana’s ghost first appears before she sets out to help her sisters.

The remaining sisters are each so different. Jessica, the second oldest, has always been a little mean, but now she tries to be Ana, taking over everything that was her sister’s, even her boyfriend. But Jessica, like the other sisters, has depth and who she appears to be is not the total sum of who she really is. Iridian is the depiction of isolation. A writer, she puts her life onto paper, noticing all of the details but as a person on the outside looking in when she’d truly like to be on the inside and experiencing. Lastly, there’s Rosa who seems almost other-worldly but that’s because, of all the sisters, she’s the one most in touch. She is part of the natural world, an extension.

There is so much to love about Tigers, Not Daughters and so much that justifies a second reading so that I can savor the writing. This is one I won’t soon forget.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.



4 butterflies and a ladybug out of 5 butterflies

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