The tiger rising ISBN: 9780744556902
Published by Walker, 2001
Twelve year old Rob's mother has died, and he and his dad have come to Lister in Florida where his dad works at the Kentucky Star Motel. Rob has shut up all his thoughts and memories of his mum in a mental suitcase - shut them tightly so they can't get out. The beginning of his healing process comes when he discovers a tiger in a cage in the woods, and when he meets feisty and tough Sistine, who has her own shut-out memories to conquer, he is on the way. What to do about the tiger is the problem. Sistine insists they must free him. Timid Rob isn't convinced. Wise woman Willie May, a black lady who works at the motel, tells him her pet bird died when she freed him, and he is afraid for the tiger. Sure enough, when the children free the tiger, Rob's father shoots him, bringing on the tears that Rob and his dad have been holding back for so long. Symbolically, the freeing of emotions hurts, just like the death of the tiger. Rob's difficulties in school with bullying (because of his chronic eczema) come into the story as well. The book has all the bleakness, beauty and toughness of the deep south in America, and the 'voice' is completely right and believable. A short book, full of emotional truth.