Monday, May 2, 2011

Tiger, Tiger by Margaux Fragoso

<Note: Some readers may find the subject matter of this book disturbing.  Be warned.>

Title: Tiger, Tiger
Author: Margaux Fragoso
Source: Library

What's the Story?:

From "One summer day, Margaux Fragoso swam up to Peter Curran at a public swimming pool and asked him to play. She was seven; he was fifty-one. When Curran invited her and her mom to see his house, the little girl found a child’s dream world, full of odd pets and books and music and magical toys. Margaux’s mother was devoted, but beset by mental illness and frightened of her abusive husband; she was only too ready to take advantage of an escape for the daughter she felt incapable of taking care of on her own. Soon Margaux was spending all her time with Peter.

In time, he insidiously took on the role of Margaux’s playmate, father, lover, and captor. Charming and repulsive, warm and violent, loving and manipulative, Peter burrowed into every aspect of Margaux’s life and transformed her from a girl fizzing with imagination and affection into a deadened, young-old woman on the brink of suicide. But when she was twenty-two, it was Peter—ill, and terrified at the thought of losing her—who killed himself, at the age of sixty-six."

My Two Cents:
It is no overstatement to say that this book thoroughly disturbed me. I felt horrible through Margaux through the entire book. Even if she had not ever met Peter, the man who molested her, she would have had a difficult life between the abuse at the hands of her own father and her mother's mental illness, which never seemed to be fully and truly under control. Instead, her life spiraled into something resembling a hostage situation.

Through Fragoso's writing the reader is able to understand just how brainwashed she was by Peter even though he does all sorts of unspeakable things to her and  she had many chances to escape. At one point, she believes the only way that she and her mother can escape the situation is if Margaux gets pregnant by Peter so she and her mother get sent away to live with her mother's sister by Margaux's father. It's so sad and crazy that someone would be brought down to the point where they think something like that is the only way to change their situation.

It's still inconceivable to me that Peter was allowed to do these things to Margaux for so long before anyone did anything about it. Margaux's mother was often at Peter's house while he did these things to her. Peter was also in a relationship with a woman named Ines who was also often at the house along with her two sons. Peter was allowed to have foster children, whom he also molested. I have to imagine that some of the neighbors had some inkling as to what was going on. It's so sad that no one ever called CPS until after the abuse had been going on for so long.

Fragoso points out in the afterword of the book that her mother had also been abused when she was younger and between that and her mental illness, she didn't recognize the signs of Margaux being abused. Margaux said that she was pushed to write the book after his death and the birth of her child because she wanted to break the cycle of abuse, an incredibly difficult and brave thing to do. 

This book was shocking but the shock served a greater purpose. Hopefully because of this book, fewer children will have to go through this experience.


  1. Wow, I'm with you - the subject matter sounds very disturbing. I'm not sure I could get through this one, though the author's note about her own personal background does make it an important novel. Thanks for the in-depth review!


  2. Though I know it will be disturbing, I'm very interested to read this book. Thanks so much for your review.

  3. @Sue Jackson It was hard to get through but totally gripping at the same time! I found myself wishing that I could do something to save the author!

  4. @Laura Ashlee The book definitely pulls you in and I thought it was well written. You really see how Fragoso became so trapped and felt she couldn't run even though at times, the door really was wide open.

  5. Wow -- sounds very compelling but definitely disturbing, and I'm not sure I could get through it! Reading your review, I was reminded of an excerpt I found on a while back -- and I'm now realizing it was from Tiger, Tiger. No wonder it sounded familiar! Enjoyed your review, though I think I'll steer clear of this one.

  6. I agree that this is a disturbing story, but it sounds like it was therapeutic for the author and perhaps others in similar situations. Excellent review!

  7. I don't think I could get through this one...

  8. @Meg It was very hard to get through and I was tempted to put it down a few times but I just wanted to make sure everything ended up okay for the author (and luckily it did).

  9. @DCMetroreader I think it would be therapeutic. The author has been able to go on and live a relatively normal life it seems.

  10. @A Buckeye Girl Reads It was definitely hard and I was tempted to put it down whenever it got graphic.

  11. Wow, this one definitely sounds disturbing. Have you read Room by Emma Donoghue? This sounds like a real-life version, which makes it all the more unsettling. I think it would be interesting to read Fragoso's thoughts and learn her reasoning for staying. I guess that's just something that's too hard for me to comprehend.

  12. @Jenna (Literature and a Lens) I actually am on the waiting list to get Room from the library. I hope it comes in soon!


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