This will be a very hard book for me to review. I first read Tiger Eyes when I was about 14. At the time, I was very on-the-fence about it. I liked certain things, but thought others were really ridiculous. However, over time, certain parts of the book have stuck with me, vividly, and I still find myself thinking about it every once in awhile. One of those thinking periods came up last week and I decided to revisit the book.
On revisit, several things struck me. First, the book is really showing its age, and I had to force myself to remember when it was written/published as I cringed through anti-gay, anti-fat, very politically incorrect stuff. Second, while I didn’t catch it all as a 14-year-old, there was way too much stuffed into this book. Alcoholism, racism, class conflict, war messages, women’s rights, etc etc. It felt like every hot-button issue of the day was somehow stuffed in, so that it was overly brimming with teachable moments. That, in turn, made it feel preachy, and detracted from the real issue of the book: processing death and grief.
Some of the memories I have from Tiger Eyes feel so big in my mind, and yet turned out to be these tiny moments that are just skimmed by in the book. Some felt poignant to my adolescent mind, while they felt overly done or melodramatic to my adult mind. Some of the important parts of the book are things I don’t even remember. That makes reviewing the reread of the book particularly difficult.
I did appreciate my reread, though. While my adult self is still on the fence about Tiger Eyes, just as my adolescent self was, I still think it’s a book that will continue to stay with me over time. I loved the juxtaposition of Cold War mentality against a person living in continuous fear. I still really like the sections on alcoholism, despite them not being as emphasized as I remembered. I see more hope than I used to at the end of the book, and more meaning in Davey’s friendship with Wolf in New Mexico. So it was good to revisit, and I’m happy to say that rereading did not destroy any of my childhood feelings or memories related to the book. That’s more than I can say about some that I’ve reread!
Note: Originally read in ~1993-ish.