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Tigers, Not Daughters

A lyrical contemporary YA with a dose of magical realism, Tigers, Not Daughters is an empowering portrait of grief, sisterhood and resilience.

Ever since their mother died in childbirth, the four Torres sisters are desperate to get away from their crushingly needy father. Two months after a failed escape, Ana, the eldest, falls to her death from her bedroom window. A year later, the destroyed sisters and their "disaster of a dad" still mourn. Jessica seethes with anger as she dates Ana's abusive former boyfriend. Iridian, inspired by Ana's romance novels, pens her own, writing down her father's harshest insults to "feel less insignificant." Rosa, magically in tune with nature, believes an escaped hyena is linked to Ana. The three soon see signs of Ana's ghost--her shadow, handwriting and laughter--which convince them she's returned for revenge, and each has her own theory against whom.

The sisters in Tigers, Not Daughters face discrete battles, yet Ana's ghost unites them and forces them to confront the palpable grief eclipsing their powerful bond. Samantha Mabry's characters express their pain with achingly raw vulnerability: Jessica "knew what it was like to... pick pieces of other people's skin from beneath her fingernails"; Rosa had "a part of her snapped off, leaving her with a big, raw hole"; "Iridian felt like Ana was the itch in her skin." At the same time, Mabry (All the Wind in the World) gracefully shows their delicate paths forward as they leave behind guilt and regret and find romantic love and renewed strength. In a beautiful display of sisterly love, the girls summon the fight within, protect each other from their fears and move forward through their loss. --Samantha Zaboski, freelance editor and reviewer