Tiger, Tiger is the second book by author Galaxy Craze (yes, that is her real name) about a young girl named May, her younger brother, Eden, and their loving but flighty mother, Lucy. Her first novel, By the Shore, finds the threesome running a broken-down hotel by the sea, living apart from May's father as Lucy tries to go it alone. Tiger, Tiger is set a few years later, with the family back in London with May's father, Simon. Lucy and Simon have a troubled relationship marked by breakups and reconciliations. When Simon leaves the family to go to India, purportedly to do some valuable purchasing for his antique shop, Lucy is angry at once again being left behind. When Simon runs into trouble on his trip, Lucy decides she won't wait around for him to return home. She packs up May and Eden and flies to California to an ashram.
Telling her children they will be spending the summer holiday here, Lucy quickly settles in to life at the ashram. Taken under guru Parvati's wing, Lucy becomes her new favorite, winning privileges like helping to cook Parvati's daily meals. May and Eden, however, are not as easily won over, resisting the enforced chores and unpalatable vegetarian food. Eden discovers that Parvati is not completely truthful about her past life, and the children hope to convince Lucy not to stay. Lucy won't hear anything negative about the strict leader, though, and May and Eden realize they need to make the best of their new life.
As the summer wears on, May and Eden both start to make friends and find a level of comfort with the simple ashram ways. May becomes especially close to Sati, a young girl whom Parvati has married to God and whose mother is soon to give birth to another child. When Sati's mother is asked to make a horrible sacrifice, Lucy tries to help her and incurs Parvati's anger. Faced for the first time with a true picture of the uncontested power wielded by the leader of the ashram, Lucy must ultimately choose between Parvati and her children.
Tiger, Tiger examines the bonds between parents and children, and what happens when those bonds are strained by outside forces. Both of May's parents are neglectful in different ways, each blaming the other for their deficiencies. As May tries desperately to remain loyal to both parents, Craze paints a heartbreaking portrait of a young girl confronted with the reality of her parents' shortcomings. Her trust in each of them is betrayed, drawing the reader in to May's despair as she learns the hard lessons of growing up. As in her first novel, Craze captures the voice of the young girl perfectly, with a first-person narrative that is arresting from the opening paragraph.
Readers of Craze's first novel may notice some inconsistencies which could be jarring, specifically in the timeline of Lucy and Simon's relationship. By the Shore had a certain hopefulness to it that made it a captivating read, while Tiger, Tiger is mostly concerned with hopelessness and despair. Perhaps for that reason, it doesn't quite live up to the brilliance of its predecessor, leaving the reader feeling just the slightest bit let down. It is, however, a fine second novel, and it is hoped that Craze won't leave her readers waiting quite as long for a third installment in May's life.
Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. © Elizabeth Schulenberg, 2009