Tigers, Not Daughters
By Samantha Mabry
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.
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.
Thank you so much to the publisher for providing me with an ARC of Tigers, Not Daughters to review!
When I got an email asking if I could review a novel with Little Women, The Virgin Suicides, and King Lear influences–I was hooked. Those are all works I’ve read and enjoyed, so I instantly accepted. This book was…interesting. Being a little under 300 pages I expected to be able to finish Tiger, Not Daughter in a matter of hours, but I found it took me a little longer than expected due to the way it was crafted and the rather heavy subject material it deals with. I also think that the constant switching of perspectives made it a little difficult to follow the story as just when I was really getting invested/interested in one pov it would switch and I’d have to get invested in a whole other character. It felt a little cut up in the beginning, but after a while I found myself used to it.
The characters and the writing itself were the strongest elements of this novel. The writing has an almost poetic quality to it, and I found myself getting lost in the words. Mabry was able to take the rather depressing topic of grief with the Torres sisters processing the loss of the eldest sister, Ana, and write about it in a way that that comes off as beautiful and sad rather than just sad. We get to see how each member of the family is coping with this loss in way that feels real and unforced. Rosa, Idrian, and Jess are brought to life within the pages, and through their memories Ana is bright to life for the reader.
One aspect of this novel that I didn’t really love was the supernatural/magical realism. I felt that it look away from the reality/relatability of the story, but it didn’t ruin the story entirely for me. Overall, I give Tigers, Not Daughters four stars for being a beautiful, impactful tale that I recommend to anyone looking for a quick, emotional read.
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