The Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo. | Format: Paperback, 116 pages, Candlewick Press, 2002. | Source: Own. | Add to your Goodreads TBR!
The Tiger Rising is perhaps one of Kate DiCamillo’s more beautiful, sadder books for Middle-Grade readers (and Young Adult readers and even Adults!). She is one of my favorite authors (I’ve got many) and has been since I was a kid when I was first introduced to her writing with Because of Winn-Dixie. I have read The Tiger Rising multiple times now, and with each read it just gets better and better. Although I do remember crying the very first time I read it as a child. This time, in 2015, I didn’t cry, but my heart ached terribly because now I am old enough to truly understand the symbolism and the pain in Rob and Sistine’s lives.
It is a very short book, more like a novella, but doesn’t lack in any manner. The characters are rich, layered, interesting, and sympathetic. Rob has lost his mother and has locked his emotions away in an imaginary suitcase that he doesn’t allow himself to crack open; his father is the same way. Sistine’s parents have separated and she’s staying with her mother until her father takes her back; she’s angry about her life and fights back any chance she can get. The two of them are an odd pairing, polar opposites of each other, but they form a friendship nonetheless. And they struggle to come to terms with their own sadness and hurt when they face the dilemma of an illegally kept tiger.
I don’t want to give away any more than that–you should experience this book yourself (it was a National Book Award finalist). It’s a deep, poignant story about how a tiger heals these two children, but not in the way you’d suspect. Definitely give this a try–you’ll fall in love with it. Kate DiCamillo’s writing is absolutely gorgeous and whimsical and so vivid, and I highly recommend reading any and all of her magical stories. ♦