Book Review: Tiger, Tiger

Tiger, Tiger: A Memoir
By: Margaux Fragoso
Published By: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
Publication Date: March 2011
Page Count: 336
Buy it at Amazon or IndieBound
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Audience: Adult - Memoir, Abuse

This is a very difficult book to give a star rating to. On the one hand, it was absolutely compelling and I read it in a single sitting. On the other hand, the subject matter is frankly disturbing and I would feel wrong about giving it five stars. So I'm going to leave this one without a birdie rating... I'm sure you will understand why through reading my review.

This is a memoir (the first memoir I have ever finished) which details a woman's memories of growing up in the thrall of a pedophile. A friend's husband recommended this to me, as it was required reading on his teaching course, and I think this is an important book to read for everyone. It is not necessarily a pleasant read, far from it as there are scenes where the author was coerced into sexual acts at the tender age of 7/8, but I have learned a heck of a lot about what it is like to be the object of a pedophile's attention, and how they can convince their victims into thinking what is happening is right. I have seen this book on YA bookshelves, but I really don't think that it is something you want anyone under 16 to be reading; it isn't graphic but it is disturbing. 

The prologue and afterword were very interesting, as the author stepped away from the past and described things as an adult. It is very scary just how locked into the relationship she was as a young girl - thinking she wanted the relationship and what came with it, but having painful physiological reactions brought on from mental anguish, it seems. It was like her body knew deep down that it was all terribly wrong, but she just couldn't consciously deal with that. 

I really need to think on this book a lot more. I don't really want to put it on my list of recommendations, despite how compelling it was, and I don't want to keep the book in my home at all, but I do feel like this was a very important story that got told, and I think more people need to hear it to try and save future victims from suffering. I was quite appalled that throughout, the girl's mother (who was not entirely 'there' mentally) didn't have the slightest inkling of what was going on, and she thought the whole thing was very innocent. I'd say this is an important book for mothers to read; you just never know. 

One summer day, Margaux Fragoso meets Peter Curran at the neighborhood swimming pool, and they begin to play. She is seven; he is fifty-one. When Peter invites her and her mother to his house, the little girl finds a child’s paradise of exotic pets and an elaborate backyard garden. Her mother, beset by mental illness and overwhelmed by caring for Margaux, is grateful for the attention Peter lavishes on her, and he creates an imaginative universe for her, much as Lewis Carroll did for his real-life Alice.

In time, he insidiously takes on the role of Margaux’s playmate, father, and lover. Charming and manipulative, Peter burrows into every aspect of Margaux’s life and transforms her from a child fizzing with imagination and affection into a brainwashed young woman on the verge of suicide. But when she is twenty-two, it is Peter—ill, and wracked with guilt—who kills himself, at the age of sixty-six.

Told with lyricism, depth, and mesmerizing clarity, Tiger, Tiger vividly illustrates the healing power of memory and disclosure. This extraordinary memoir is an unprecedented glimpse into the psyche of a young girl in free fall and conveys to readers—including parents and survivors of abuse—just how completely a pedophile enchants his victim and binds her to him.