“Each of us must confront our own fears, must come face to face with them. How we handle our fears will determine where we go with the rest of our lives. To experience adventure or to be limited by the fear of it.”
I remember reading Tiger Eye's when I was a wee bookworm, loving it then, as it made a lasting impression while other books have long since been forgotten. I wanted to walk down memory lane this weekend with a re-read, and I'm happy to say I wasn't disappointed this time around either. Blume does an excellent job portraying the life of a troubled fifteen year old girl and her family when this tragedy strikes.
The different reactions of each age group seems realistic: the mother, a generally dependent woman now feeling hopeless, Davey, the oldest child who has to struggle not only with her father's death but with puberty and new friends, and Jason, the youngest child who has trouble understanding the concept in death in general, let alone that he's not going to see his father again.
Pacing is slower and not action-filled, leaning more toward psychological impact. Emotions appear genuine and grief runs deep; I found myself weepy more than once. The focal point always remains Davey, even when it's showing someone else grieving through the teen's eyes. I especially appreciate how Blume has the temporary 'parents', the aunt and uncle', move them to a town where the major employer deals with creating weapons, and how the uncle designs bombs. The conflict of his employment with what Davey is going through adds a complex touch.
The addition of Wolf as a character was a good move too, as it gives Davey something more to do than mourn and be angry. He doesn't appear too often but enough to work his magic. I still would have liked to see him more before they left, however, as it seemed bittersweet and without a wrap-up.
Surprisingly this book has been banned by many schools, and I can't fathom why. There is no nudity and no foul language. It does deal with the loss of a parent and grief - I'm sure many in school are dealing with what Davey does on a day to day basis. Alcohol is mentioned but as a negative issue. Davey's new friend has a drinking problem, which Davey encourages her to get counseling about. This in itself is another positive outlook on a common teenage problem. I suppose schools just don't wish to deal with real life issues that our children go through and need the most help with.
Maybe they find the book too depressing. Perhaps, then, they should see that many kids are depressed and finding people in books going through similar situations should be encouraged, not 'banned'. For all I know it is because the friend with the drinking problem ends up making out with a guy in the backseat of a car. Yeah, like teenagers don't do that either. The book makes an issue out of this happening as a result of the drinking and is in no way glorifying alcohol. In fact, any romantic involvement the main character deals with is hope of a chaste kiss. Ohhhhh well, I'll fret about this again another day.
I'll wrap up by saying that as always Blume is creative with her story, genuine with her characters, and to the point with her writing style. I'm sorry to see that not only this one, but most of her work, is banned. She is actually an activist on reading freedom. You'll find something to like in all her work, but this one in particular is quite special.
It doesn't earn the five rating award, but it was close. Most angst and action, both psychology and perhaps from outside forces, would be welcomed to spruce it up slightly. Davey feels the characteristic numbness and emotional acceptance, but I feel Blume could have explored it a little more, maybe with more "oomph."
“I can't let safety and security become the focus of my life.”
“Some changes happen deep down inside of you. And the truth is, only you know about them. Maybe that's the way it's supposed to be.”