Wild Things x OnlinesOnline: WHEN YOU TRAP A TIGER by Tae Keller

*Originally featured at OnlinesOnline: HERE.

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In the summer before seventh grade, Lily and her family move in with her sick grandmother. Lily tries to heal her Halmoni with magic and stories. And, of course, tigers.

“Create the story of who you are yet to be” (268).

This is a quote from the tiger, talking to Lily. (I told you! Magic!)

One of the themes in the novel is the idea of how stories change depending on who is telling them and where that person is in their lives. At this point in the novel, Lily…

…discovers that the stories the tiger has been telling her are about her family. She realizes here that she is part of the story, part of her own story, and she can tell it however she wants.

Our feelings about the tiger have morphed throughout the novel, but suspicion is the primary emotion. Here, toward the end, Keller gives us moments that bring out more tenderness, including this one. (The last moment we have with the tiger.)

The tiger, who Lily calls “my tiger” at this point, is part of the story too, and she will stay with Lily for as long as Lily needs/wants her. Lily has been an active protagonist throughout the novel, but this piece of dialogue highlights Lily’s own power for her, making Lily’s agency explicit to herself.

“Dancing in the Moon” by The Ditty Bops — magical and lovely, like this beautiful novel. Plus, the moon pops up at important points throughout this story, so… bonus.

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Click here for the full post, including thoughts on WHEN YOU TRAP A TIGER’s first and (spoiler!) last lines.