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Tiger, Tiger by Galaxy Craze

Tiger, Tiger by Galaxy Craze

Galaxy Craze (yes, it is her real name, a daughter of Hippies) wrote an early novel, By the Shore, and an excellent young adult fantasy novel, The Last Princess. Both are books I loved reading – as did all of my staff - and somewhere in between a book I missed until recently Tiger, Tiger.

Tiger, Tiger features the same characters as By the Shore, but moves them forward in time. It is spring, 1997, “Princess Diana was in Cambodia trying to rid the country of land mines. Margaret Thatcher was discussing the recent row in the House of Lords.” And May, now a young teenager, her much younger brother, Eden, and Mom, Lucy, are at the beginning of the long summer school holidays.

Lucy and her husband Simon have been operating a pseudo-antique shop in London selling mostly imports from India. A shop that Simon, the successful businessman, sees as his entry into society after growing up poor in the East End. Simon works hard, is enjoying his success, and has difficulty understanding the dissatisfaction obvious in Lucy’s life. Lucy, who grew up in relative ease and wealth, does not understand the importance of the shop for Simon, and at the age of 30-something she is experiencing that “there must be more to life than this” phase many, if not all, woman feel at this age and stage of life. Theirs has always been a tumultuous, on again off again, marriage, and this may be the beginning of “off again”.

When one of her hippy-dippy friends invites her to America, to an Ashram in California, Lucy takes the kids and they are off for a “holiday” in the sun. I bet everyone my age knows someone who went off to an Ashram – many to India. Nice Jewish boys and girls – and Christians too I am sure – who left their parents shaking their heads in disbelief - as their “children” went to “find themselves”. Most returning after discovering that life might not really be as idyllic on an Ashram – or in any other cult-like society – as it might seem from a distance.

What Galaxy Craze has so brilliantly captured here is this world seen through the eyes of May, the young teenager wanting to belong, wanting to have a best friend and all that goes along with it. She takes you there – to that in-between age – of adolescence, balancing precariously between childhood and maturity. To that time of being grown up enough to have quite a lot of responsibility and independence – but still also having a naive belief in the goodness of others – while just beginning to learn how dangerous that can be.

The story of Lucy and her children, especially May, is the centre of the novel, but the life of the others living in the Ashram are the stories that make the novel whole and give it that something extra – a picture of a time in place for my generation. Yet Tiger, Tiger goes beyond the simply nostalgic, and is the story of a mother, her love for her children, and her awakening awareness of their needs and her own at this time, and of who she truly is, is and what her family really means to her.

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