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A SLJ Best Book of 2020
A Shelf Awareness Best Book of 2020
A 2020 BCCB Blue Ribbon List title
“Move over, Louisa May Alcott! Samantha Mabry has written her very own magical Little Women for our times.” —Julia Alvarez, author of How the García Girls Lost Their Accents
The first time Ana Torres came back as a ghost, her sisters weren't there.
A year after Ana’s death, Jessica, Iridian, and Rosa, still consumed by grief and haunted by her memory, start noticing strange things around the house: laughter without a voice, shadows cast by nothing, writing on the walls. None of them have seen Ana, but they know she’s trying to send them a message—or maybe it’s a warning.
In a stunning follow-up to her National Book Award-longlisted novel All the Wind in the World, Samantha Mabry weaves an aching, magical novel that is one part family drama, one part ghost story, and one part love story.
The Night the Torres Sisters Tried to Run Away from Southtown
The window to Ana Torres's second-story bedroom faced Hector's house, and every night she'd undress with the curtains wide open, in full view of the street. We'd witnessed this scene dozens—hundreds—of times, but still, each night Ana had us perched there, pained and floating on the edge of something tremendous.
With her back to us, Ana would strip off her shirt and her bra—that bra made of white cotton, the fabric so thin we could see the shimmer of her sandstone skin through it—and toss them onto the floor at the foot of her never-made bed. She'd lift up her arms, stretch her spine like a cat, and roll her head side to side to ease out the kinks in her neck. She'd run her fingers through her long, ink-black hair before gracefully winding it up into a knot. Then she'd turn—so slowly it made our eyes gloss with tears. She'd sigh and gaze through her window—never straight at our faces, which were always twisted tightly with hope—but always past us, over the top of the crooked oak tree in her front yard, over the top of Hector's two-story house, over the tops of tilted palms several streets away, to some faraway place. She'd have this wistful expression on her face, like she was waiting for something, or someone, to come down from the night sky and take her away.
We were barely fifteen, and Ana was nearly eighteen, but we were convinced that we could be her heroes. We could be the ones to rescue her and take her wherever she wanted to go. Up and over into New Mexico? No problem. Down into Matamoros? Just say when. Peter knew the basics when it came to driving a car, and Luis had close to fifty bucks stashed away in a drawer. We would do whatever it took and would suffer any number of indignities to be with her, this girl of our young, fresh dreams, to save her from our old neighborhood, with its old San Antonio families and its traditions so strong and deep we could practically feel them tugging at our heels when we walked across our yards. We wouldn't have cared if Ana made fun of our gangly bodies, our terrible, squeaky voices, the way no deodorant could come close to covering up our puberty-stink, or the very, very dumb things we inevitably would say.
Just tell us where you want to go, Ana. And we'll take you there.
We never got the chance.
Just over a year ago, on an unusually warm spring night during Fiesta, Ana Torres opened her second-story window and stuck out her head. She was checking to make sure the street was clear before she latched on to the sturdy branches of the old oak tree. She shimmied down the wide trunk, and once the soles of her flip-flops landed on the patchy grass, she dusted off the bits of bark from her palms and turned her gaze up.
There, at Ana's window, was her sixteen-year-old sister, Jessica. Jessica tossed down a pink backpack, then a blue one, then two matching tweed suitcases like the kind traveling salesmen used to carry back when there were such people as traveling salesmen. Ana caught each of them, one after the other, her knees buckling only slightly under the weight. She set them in a row near the base of the tree and looked up again, to watch Jessica hitch her left leg awkwardly through the window and then reach for the nearest branch with unsure hands.
Even from across the street at Hector's house, we could see Jessica's lips pulled back and her teeth clamped together in cold determination. She was gripping too hard—first to the window frame, then to the branches. It was obvious she'd never done anything like this before. Her fingers were popping the leaves loose, and the soles of her high-tops were chipping off bits of bark. Both the leaves and the bark were fluttering to the ground, right to where Ana was bouncing on the balls of her feet. We could tell Ana wanted to call out to her sister. She couldn't say anything, though—couldn't risk it—because the base of the tree, right by the row of luggage, was directly in front of their dad's bedroom window.
By now, fifteen-year-old Iridian—the girls, we realized, were making their escape in birth order—was leaning halfway out the window, scowling at Jessica's slow and clumsy progress. She kept glancing nervously over her shoulder, then down to the top of her sister's head. Her fingers drummed against the window frame. Finally, she couldn't wait anymore. She pulled her hair back into a quick bun and climbed out. Her movements—like Ana's—were solid and sure. She knew exactly where to grip, how to shift her balance, when to inhale, when to exhale. Soon though, Iridian was forced to pause and dangle, waiting for Jessica. She glanced to the window above, where the youngest of the Torres sisters, Rosa, who was twelve, was starting to emerge.
Finally, Jessica hit the ground—hard and flat-footed. Her arms pinwheeled like a cartoon character's until she caught her balance. Seconds later, Iridian swung off a high branch and landed in a crouch in the grass. She pulled her hair out from her bun, and the strands spilled across her shoulders.
Now that the three of them—Ana, Jessica, and Iridian—were all on solid ground, they looked up in unison. Rosa was wearing a calf-length dress because Rosa always wore a calf-length dress. Tonight, though, in honor of Fiesta, the front of that dress was covered in medals—like awards, like pins in the style of a Purple Heart, except most of hers were made of plastic with bright, multicolored ribbons attached to them. As Rosa was suspended with just the tip of one bulky shoe braced against the window frame, the fabric of her dress caught in a breeze, and we wouldn't have been surprised if, instead of climbing down to join her sisters, Rosa climbed up into the tallest, most tender branches of the tree to search for birds' nests or pluck off the prettiest leaf or just be closer to the stars in the night sky. We'd always thought that if Rosa were an element, she'd be air, the lazy kind that gets tossed around a room when a ceiling fan is on its lowest setting.
Rosa did decide to climb down instead of up, but just as she was about to take the final, short leap to the ground, her dress got caught on something—maybe the sharp nub of a snapped-off limb—and her skirt was hoisted up to her ribs, exposing not just her pale underwear but the bottom edge of her bra. Our breaths caught—all at the same time. We saw Ana reach over and grip Jessica's wrist. Iridian took a step forward, then stopped, then put her hand over her mouth. Rosa shifted her weight, released one hand from the tree branch and pulled—once, twice—before the fabric gave way. Then, finally, she leapt.
From there, the girls didn't hesitate. They each grabbed a piece of luggage and were gone, down Devine Street and then north and away from Southtown.
For a moment, we just stood there, shoulder to shoulder at Hector's bedroom window, our skin buzzing with the kind of feeling a person gets before jumping off a high cliff into water: bravery mixed with low-level terror. Eventually, we looked at one another. We knew that this was our moment. We crept out of Hector's room and tiptoed down the stairs. One by one, we pushed through the Garcias' squeaky storm door and stepped out into the night.
If the Torres sisters were headed north and carrying luggage, we figured their destination was the Greyhound station on St. Mary's and Martin, even though it was over a mile away and on the other side of downtown. Sure enough, when we got to the end of Devine, we saw the sisters hustling in that direction. We didn't know for sure where they'd catch a bus to, but if we had to guess, we would've said the girls were heading south, to the Rio Grande Valley, where their aunt Francine lived in a big house in the middle of the orange groves.
Ana led the way. Behind her was Iridian. Then Rosa. Bringing up the rear was Jessica. Her suitcase was so heavy it banged against the side of her leg with every step, and she had to keep switching it from her right hand to her left and back.
All warm, star-flecked spring nights in downtown San Antonio bring out the tourists, but this night was different from the other warm, star-flecked nights. The girls were making their getaway on one of the busiest nights of the year, during Fiesta, when the streets were packed, even in the middle of the night—and not just packed with tourists, but with locals draped in medal-covered sashes and wearing crowns made from paper flowers. They were out in droves to celebrate the Texians who fought long ago in the battles of the Alamo and San Jacinto. And even when we were still a couple of blocks away from downtown proper, we could hear the music—the blare of horns, the percussive thumps of guitars. Little bits of colored crepe paper floated through air and covered the sidewalks and the streets.
The girls chose to run away during Fiesta probably because they thought they could disappear in the huge, ambling crowd and no one would notice them, and maybe that was a good plan. We, however, could do nothing but notice them. None of the Torres sisters was particularly tall—Iridian was the tallest, but still not tall. Their heads didn't bob above the crowd, but we could still see it shift and part as the girls pushed through. We followed, shouldering and ducking our way through people who smelled like beer and cinnamon and drugstore cologne. We thought we could stay hidden and that we could go unnoticed, but once the sisters had finally plowed through the crowd's northernmost edge and were picking up their pace, Jessica, who was still bringing up the rear, glanced over her shoulder and saw us.
She stopped. Her eyes narrowed. We froze. She advanced.
"Shit," Jimmy squeaked.
Even with a little square of pink crepe paper stuck just above her right eyebrow, Jessica Torres was still scary as hell. It seemed like she was always, always angry. In kindergarten, she bit a teacher on the wrist because snack time was over and he tried to take away her peanut butter crackers. In junior high, she keyed Jenny Sanchez's mom's car because she didn't like the color of it, and just this last December, she got detention for three days after she'd jammed the tip of a lead pencil into Muriel Contreras's pinky finger. The lead is still in there. Muriel tries to say it's a freckle, but everyone knows the truth.
For a moment, there on the far edge of the Fiesta celebration, none of us spoke. Jessica stared us down. Her teeth were clamped together, bared slightly, just like they were when she was climbing down that tree. The other Torres sisters—realizing Jessica was no longer with them—halted and spun around.
It was Hector who finally mustered up some courage. He cleared his throat and asked, "Where are you going?"
"We can help," Calvin quickly chimed in.
Ana took a step forward. She shrugged off her heavy backpack and slid herself in front of Jessica. She looked us over, met each of us in the eye for the briefest moment, but said nothing. A breeze caught her hair, lifting the strands, blowing them in our direction.
We'd never been this close to Ana Torres before, and it was disorienting. She was so, so beautiful. We'd imagined before—many times—what she might've smelled like. Maybe it was roses, vanilla, lemons, or maybe the first, fresh slice of white bread pulled from the plastic sleeve. But until then, we never truly knew.
It was laundry. She smelled like laundry, like dryer sheets mixed with a little stubborn sweat.
"We can help," Calvin repeated.
"Boys." Ana's tone was full of scorn, and it burned our soft hearts. "Go home. We don't need your help."
Ana was suddenly lit up from the side. All four of the girls turned, and in that moment we knew from the loud rattle of the overstressed engine coming our way that Rafe Torres had discovered his daughters' escape and had tracked them down in his truck.
Hector cried out, "Run!"
But the girls didn't run.
They just waited and watched as their dad honked his horn twice and brought his old green Ford pickup to a stop in the middle of the street. Jessica's heavy suitcase fell to the ground with a thud. Rafe, dressed in a white V-neck undershirt and jeans, jumped from the truck while the engine was still running and went straight for Ana. He gripped her arm, digging his thumb right into her shoulder joint.
"What were you thinking?" he barked. "Huh?"
Ana said nothing. She didn't even wince. She just slowly turned her head to the side, and her gaze slid northward, in the direction of the bus station.
The passenger door of Rafe's truck opened, and out came Hector's mom, wearing fuzzy slippers and a red flannel robe over a long nightgown. She was watching Rafe and Ana with a strange expression on her face. It was a mix of things: like she was relieved, like she was furious, like she was guilty, like she felt sorry for the Torres girls, like she knew, deep down, that it may have been better for them to have caught a bus to the Valley or wherever else they'd hoped to go than to stay with their sad dad in Southtown.
Hector's mom then turned toward us. She ticked up her chin and pointed down the street.
"Walk," she commanded.
We walked. The last thing we saw before we were again swallowed by the noisy, sweaty Fiesta crowd was Jessica arguing with her father, refusing to get in the truck. If anyone else had noticed what was happening between the Torres girls and Rafe, they didn't let on; everyone knew families were complicated and that dads were always dealing with unruly teenage daughters. Rafe gripped Jessica's arm, then her waist, and then pushed her into the extended cab. She managed to pin us with one more stare, full of hot fury. We deserved it.
We learned on the walk back what had happened. Hector's mom had heard us leave. It took her a minute to figure out what was happening and then to get up and wrestle on her robe. Once she got out into the front yard, she saw Ana's wide-open second-story window. She went across to the Torres house and rang the doorbell until Rafe answered, still half asleep. Together, in Rafe's truck, they drove around the neighborhood, searching for their runaways. At the time, Rafe didn't seem all that mad, Hector's mom told us. Instead, he seemed scared. His fingers were trembling against the steering wheel. He kept repeating, "My girls. My girls." He kept asking Hector's mom, "What will I do if they leave me?"
This is how we learned that we were the ones who had destroyed the Torres girls' chance at escape. If it weren't for us, things would've turned out differently. If it weren't for us, Ana wouldn't have died two months later and her sisters wouldn't have been forced to suffer at the hands of her angry ghost.
(Sunday, June 9th)
The routine on Sunday was simple. Rosa got up first. She'd shower, dress for church, and then go out into the backyard for an hour or so and try to talk to the animals. Jessica got up next. The first thing she'd do, even before using the bathroom, was check on Dad. Knowing him, he'd probably have gotten home just as the sun was coming up and would sleep well into the afternoon. After going downstairs to peek into his room, Jessica would head back upstairs and get ready to go to work, which usually took a while, given that she never left the house without looking flawless. Jessica's Sunday shift at the pharmacy didn't start until 11 a.m., but before that she'd pick up her boyfriend John from his house a couple of blocks away so they could go get breakfast somewhere.
Iridian had nowhere to be, so she got up last.
On this particular Sunday, which she hoped would be the same as every other Sunday, Iridian got dressed and went downstairs to the kitchen. After pouring some cereal—chocolate puffs, her favorite—she hopped up on the counter so she could have a better view of Rosa, who was sitting on a wooden chair in the middle of the backyard, facing away from the house. When Rosa wasn't outside, her long hair was the blandest shade of tree-bark brown, but in the sun, especially the morning sun, it was an array of earth tones: pecan, rust, russet.
Rosa's hands were resting on her lap. Her palms were facing up. The light morning breezes tugged at the folds of her faded red dress and the gleaming strands of her hair.
Next door, Mrs. Moreno was out watering the cherry tree she'd just planted. She was frowning at Rosa but also at the Torreses' backyard. It had always been more dirt than grass, and in a corner close to the alley was a pile of mangled metal—the bent carcass of a swing set, the remains of a trampoline, and the rusted frame of a trundle bed. Eventually, Mrs. Moreno realized that Iridian was spying on her spying. Their gazes caught, and Iridian raised her hand to give the older woman a wave. Mrs. Moreno's upper lip stuck on dry teeth in her attempt to smile. As she turned away, the arc of water from her hose swung from the cherry tree to a sorry-looking rosebush that was losing its battle against summer.
Iridian watched as Rosa's shoulders lifted, then lowered. It was a tiny, almost imperceptible movement: a sigh. Iridian saw that little sigh every Sunday morning, and every Sunday morning, it killed her. The day had just started, but already Rosa was disappointed. She woke up full of hope only to have that hope punctured.
Iridian was shoveling in another spoonful of cereal when Rosa stood, dragged her chair back to the porch, and came inside.
"Any luck?" Iridian asked, as the screen door bounced in its frame.
Rosa shook her head and ran her hands over her dress to try to smooth out the creases. She may have been the youngest Torres sister, but Rosa dressed as if she were older—older, like from another century. She wore the same thing every day: a thrift-store dress and bulky brown oxfords. The dresses were short-sleeved, with hems that went at least to her calves, and were buttoned all the way down the front. They reminded Iridian of the kind of clothes that women in Depression-era photographs wore, more fit for standing in a bread line than going to church.
"There was nothing," Rosa replied. "For a second I thought there might have been something, but . . ."
Out in front of the house, a car honked its horn.
"Tell Walter and Mrs. Mata hello," Iridian said.
The Matas had been Rosa's ride to church every Sunday for a year. Walter was a year and a half older than Rosa, and they'd gone all through elementary school and junior high together. The Torres sisters' neighbors and parents of classmates had all taken on various roles—there were bringers of casseroles and mowers of lawns. Mrs. Mata had become transporter to church. The rest of the Torres family stopped going to regular mass soon after Ana died, but Rosa's faith remained big enough for all of them. At Ana's vigil, their old priest Father Canty told Rosa she was special—"full of God" or "touched by God," something like that. He'd insisted Rosa had a purer heart than most people. It was a gift that needed to be nurtured, honed, and then put to use. According to the old priest, if Rosa tried very hard and was very patient, she could see into the hearts of God's creatures, especially those that were small and in need of care. He said her purpose in this life was to soothe the suffering of others.
Father Canty died in his sleep exactly two weeks after Ana's funeral, so he was never able to guide Rosa any further down her spiritual path than that. His replacement was a much younger man, Father Mendoza, who, shortly after arriving to town, got in a fistfight with the still grief-stricken Rafe Torres in the produce section of the grocery store and swore he'd never come near the family again. Iridian was fine with that—she'd fallen asleep during mass for as long as she could remember; the droning words of the sermon softly bounced off her head, never finding their way in—and Jessica had never liked priests because she'd always hated old men telling her what to do. Jessica thought Father Canty's message to Rosa meant that she should volunteer at the children's hospital or the food pantry. Rosa, though, interpreted creatures "small and in need of care" as the animals around the neighborhood, and her sisters eventually just went with it.
"Dad's not in his room," Jessica declared, entering the kitchen and pinning her name tag to her shirt. "Mrs. Mata's outside, Rosa."
The horn sounded again, and Rosa blinked, like she'd briefly forgotten where she was.
"I can't find my keys," Rosa said. "But you'll be here all day, right, Iridian?"
"That's the plan."
Rosa fluttered away, out of the kitchen and through the living room. Once the front screen door clicked shut, Iridian turned to her older sister. Jessica's work uniform consisted of a blue collared shirt and khakis, and it was obvious she'd gone the extra mile that morning to try to offset the unflattering clothes she was forced to wear. Long, loose curls fell down past her shoulders. She smelled like burned hair and aerosol. Her eyes were rimmed with black pencil, and her lips were painted a deep plum color.
"There's cereal if you want some," Iridian said.
"Did you hear me? Dad's not in his room. He won't answer his phone, either." Jessica paused. "I'm worried about him—because of today."
Because of today.
Iridian knew, despite how hard she might hope, that this Sunday wouldn't be like all the other Sundays. That was because this Sunday was June ninth, a year to the day her sister Ana had fallen to her death from her window. Iridian had woken up sick in her sadness—even if sadness didn't come close to describing the deep, persistent gnawing that she felt. Emotions were hard for Iridian. She liked to read about them in books, but hated when they crept and settled in her own bones. They made her edgy. They made her sweat. Over the course of the last year, she'd convinced herself she'd gotten really good at ignoring them, brushing them aside, dodging them like a car swerving around a dead animal in the road.
"Dad stayed out." Iridian swallowed a mouthful of now-soggy chocolate globes. "He probably met some fine lady last night and—"
"Stop." Jessica put up her hand and then snatched her car keys off the kitchen table. "I get it. Just let me know when you hear from him, alright?"
Once Jessica was gone, Iridian finished the last of her breakfast, drank the milky dregs, and put the bowl in the sink. Upstairs in her room, she climbed under the covers, then reached under her pillow for her favorite book, The Witching Hour by Anne Rice, which she was just starting again even though she'd already read it over a dozen times. The paper cover had fallen off and was now rubber-banded to the rest of the pages. Iridian could practically recite entire paragraphs by memory, especially the sexy parts between Rowan and Lasher, the ghost that, for centuries, had plagued the women of the Mayfair family, women who also just so happened to be witches.
It was the greatest book ever written.
Bleary-eyed, Iridian looked up to her doorway. She could've sworn she heard someone coming up the stairs and calling her name, but no one was there. She blinked and then glanced at the clock on her nightstand. It was 2:05 in the afternoon. She'd been reading for over four hours. Her right arm was asleep from the elbow down because she'd been lying on it weird.
The front door opened with a high, quick whine.
It was Rosa. She was shouting. Something was wrong. Rosa never shouted. Iridian bolted down the stairs and saw her sister standing at the front door.
"It's Dad," Rosa said breathlessly. "In the street."
Iridian pushed past her sister. She was out of the house and running—across the front yard; across Mrs. Moreno's yard, where the water from the sprinkler was creating little suspended prisms in the sunlit air; down the sidewalk; under the shady canopies of the oak trees; and then out into the middle of the street. Down at the intersection, there was a jumble of cars facing every which way.
Iridian's heart lurched, then sank. She was thinking, There's been a wreck. Her dad must've been out drinking. Less than a block away from the house, he must've run his truck through a stop sign and into another car, or a couple of cars, or worst of all, a kid out on her bike.
Jessica's old white Civic was there, too, in the middle of the road, with the driver's-side door flung open. She must've been coming home from work on a break. For a panicked moment Iridian was convinced that she was the one Rafe had hit.
All around Jessica's car were other cars. The people in them were honking their horns, shouting, waving their arms out the window; but what they weren't doing was moaning in pain or calling for help.
Iridian wove through the cars and saw Jessica—her dark hair and the blue of her work shirt. She was crouched down in the intersection next to their dad. He was sitting in the middle of the road in his work coveralls. Sitting and sobbing.
"My girl!" he wailed. "My beautiful girl!"
Jessica had her arms around her dad's shoulders and was talking to him, trying to calm him down, but he didn't seem to realize she was there. Behind them, the green Ford pickup was parked at a diagonal, taking up most of the intersection. Its driver's-side door was open. The engine was still running, so Iridian went over and yanked the keys from the ignition.
"My baby." Rafe collapsed to the side, his face landing hard against the hot asphalt. He closed his eyes. Iridian thought that maybe he'd passed out, but then he curled himself into a ball and started muttering to himself.
"Christ," Jessica said. "Shit, shit, shit."
A long stripe of blood was on the road close to the Ford's front bumper, but from what Iridian could see of her dad's hands, legs, arms, and face, he wasn't hurt.
"Iridian!" someone yelled. "Get your father and his truck out of the damn road!"
Iridian turned, grateful for the distraction. Old Mr. Garza was in his idling pickup on the other side of the intersection. His wife was in the passenger seat. They were both dressed for afternoon mass. Mrs. Garza's arms were folded across her chest, and she was giving Iridian her very best, most judgmental glare.
Just beyond the Garzas' truck, a flash of red caught Iridian's eye. It was Rosa. She'd run into the yard of a nearby house. Iridian watched her sister land on her knees in front of a large wheat-colored dog. The dog was on its side, breathing fast. Rosa put her hand gently on its body, against its rib cage, and when she pulled it away, there was blood—blood from the dog, blood on the street.
A Must-Read Novel According to BuzzFeed * Entertainment Weekly * Ms. Magazine * BookPage * Kirkus Reviews * Publishers Weekly * Tor.com * D Magazine
“Move over, Louisa May Alcott! Samantha Mabry has written her very own magical Little Women for our times. This is no family of tamed girls but a clan of fierce and fighting young women who will draw readers into their spell. A celebration of the bonds of sisterhood and of the ways we heal by reaching beyond our losses, our brokenness and fears to the love that holds and heals.”
—Julia Alvarez, author of How the García Girls Lost Their Accents
"Samantha Mabry is just a beautiful writer. You should definitely read it."
—Veronica Roth, New York Times bestselling author of the Divergent series
“A moody and unflinching examination of the gritty, tender and impossible parts of people that make them unforgettably whole. You don't read Samantha Mabry’s books so much as experience them. Ferocious and gorgeously crafted. I loved it.”
—Courtney Summers, New York Times bestselling author of Sadie
“The National Book Award-nominated author spins another hauntingly moving tale of teenhood with this story of sisters mourning one of their own, only to realize she might still be walking among them . . . somehow.”
"Like Mabry's previous books, I found that Tigers, Not Daughters is all about the atmosphere and feelings. The small town where the Torres sisters dwell feels so real . . . Mabry's language and tone are both lush and poetic, but that doesn't stop these tiger girls from having teeth.”
"A shivery, magical exploration of the power of sisterhood.”
"One of the most crucial voices in young adult literature."
"Samantha Mabry gives us paranormal magical realism at its best with her latest YA novel."
“Mabry speaks gracefully to the transformative power of grief and the often messy (even violent) road to letting go.”
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Mabry's third novel has echoes of The Virgin Suicides . . . The evocative language and deft characterization will haunt—and empower—readers.”
—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“Little Women meets The Virgin Suicides with a magical realist twist in this evocative and lovely novel . . . An engaging, heartfelt exploration of the multifaceted inner lives of teen girls and sisterhood.”
—School Library Journal, starred review
"Borrowing elements of magical realism and Latinx folklore, this is a story that is often uncomfortable; in its quest to explore grief, family, and the traumas inflicted by each, it lays its characters utterly and unforgettably bare.”
—Booklist, starred review
"A lyrical contemporary YA with a dose of magical realism, Tigers, Not Daughters is an empowering portrait of grief, sisterhood and resilience."
—Shelf Awareness, starred review
"This is quietly searing tale of sisterly love and family secrets, of a grief so big it swallows its mourners up, blotting out the future and distorting the past . . . an appealingly unsettling infusion of ambiguous faith and unexplained miracles.”
—BCCB, starred review
“Mabry’s moody writing paints a picture of a grief-stricken family mired in grief and seemingly doom to stay there. The descriptions are sensory, visceral, and weird… The story’s climax is chaotic and cathartic—and it ultimately presents a path forward for the sisters.”
—Horn Book Magazine
"The kind of story that digs its claws deep into you. Though just under 300 pages, Mabry crafts a profoundly character driven plot that explores grief, depression, and sisterhood . . . A powerful story, filled with impactful characters and realistic depictions of grief and depression. Paired with its eerie paranormal elements, Tigers, Not Daughters will haunt your thoughts long after you’ve finished reading.”
—The Nerd Daily
“This fierce, unforgettable whirlwind of a novel, a wondrous mix of ghost story and drama of sisterly rebellion, holds the reader in thrall from the first sentence to the final page.”
—The Buffalo News
"This book is as if you took The Virgin Suicides, mixed it a with Little Women, and weaved it all together with King Lear. Read it, if you are a fan of any of these titles."
—The Young Folks
“Samantha Mabry blends elements of magical realism, moments of connection and grief, and genuinely eerie scares to create a story exploring the ‘magic in small things,’ as well as a timely ode to sisterhood and feminism.”
—The Washington Independent Review of Books
"Mabry is one of our of city’s finest writers.”
- On Sale
- Mar 30, 2021
- Page Count
- 288 pages
- Algonquin Young Readers