Saturday, March 27, 2010

Tiger Eyes

I've recently decided that I'm like the Angelina Jolie of used books. I can't stop. Really. Seventy-six books in the last three months say I have a problem. But they deserve to be loved, and I can love them. (And yes, I am unemployed. In my defense, I cracked open the PayPal account, found some previously forgotten money, and accidentally bid on a bulk lot of books. Accidentally.)

I said I was going to stop. Really. But then, I accidentally found myself inside of Salvation Army and Tiger Eyes was just sitting there. Looking at me. Looking at me with it's big unidentified-liquid-stain and dog-eared pages. Wanting to be loved. Wanting to have a shelf to call home.

So, I dug in my little pocket and found the 39 cents demanded by the price tag.

I went to pay, and the cashier said, "Was that a student ID I saw?"

I flash him the sexiness that was me at freshman orientation.

I then look up and notice the sign: 15% Discount for University Students. I have hit the rock bottom of my addiction. I accepted a student discount at Salvation Army.

Am I ashamed? Slightly. Do I have an extra 6 cents to put toward another book in need of love? Absolutely.

The story opens on Davey Wexler getting dressed--for her father's funeral. He was murdered by a drug addict--who only stole $50 from the Wexler family's 7-11. Davey, her brother Jason, and her mom slip into their own worlds. Davey's mom isn't holding things together--No one has been back to the 7/11 (they live above it), Davey hasn't gotten out of bed in over a week, and Jason's drifting around the house on his own.

Davey finally does get out of bed--to start high school. She goes home sick the first three days. From panic attacks. The school nurse keeps asking her if she's eating or if she's preggo. Nope. She just saw her dad after he was gunned down. A doctor diagnoses Davey with anxiety (no wonder!), gives her horse vitamins, and suggests the family get out of town for a while. Davey's mom jumps on this idea. Soon enough, the family is headed out to New Mexico to stay with Davey's dad's sister and her husband--Bitsy and Walter.

Meet Bitsy.
She is over involved in her community--nine clubs, volunteering, and jazzercise.
She drives a Volvo for it's safety ratings.
Bitsy never had children of her own, 
so she's been just waiting for some unsuspecting creature to nurture.

Meet Walter. He works at the Lab in Los Alamos.
He likes science and academics. He does not like skiing, Santa Fe, or driver's ed.
Those things are too dangerous, says the man that designs bombs for a living.

Davey's family settles in with Bitsy and Walter. Walter takes the family on one too many sight-seeing trips, so Davey begs off to spend the day bike riding. After a bit of a struggle, Bitsy agrees to let Davey borrow her bike as long as Davey wears a helmet. Davey ditches the helmet ASAP and rides over to a canyon. She decides that climbing down the canyon is a good idea. (Probably just because Walter and Bitsy made such a big deal about how dangerous this is. People die in canyons everyday, ya know?)

Davey is mindin' her own business when she finds someone else in the canyon--a man that for all she knows is the one that murdered her dad. Initially, Davey plans to bash his head in with a rock. Smart girl! Turns out his name is Wolf. Davey, in turn, introduces herself as Tiger. The Wolfster helps Davey climb out of the canyon, recommends the girl get hiking boots, and goes off on his merry way. Davey starts going back to the canyon to meet up with Wolf everyday. But everyday Wolf leaves for an appointment at two o'clock...

It becomes clear that Davey's family won't be going back to New Jersey anytime soon. Her mom is being treated for depression (durr!) and is spending all day in bed. Davey gets enrolled in the local high school, much to her disgust. She just wants to go back to Jersey (Why?!) and be with her boy toy, Hugh, and her best friend Lenaya. No one seems to understand the social trauma that is switching schools. The only bright spot is Davey's daily hikes with Wolf.

At school, Davey meets Jane--the All-American teen. Jane's father is high up at the Lab, and her mother works hard at making the family look perfect. The reality? Jane is terrified that she'll never leave Los Alamos. She knows she'll disappoint her parents if she doesn't choose their alma maters for college--MIT or Wellesley. She doesn't have "much" experience with boys. What is going right in Jane's life? Probably just her volunteer activities. Oh, and her status as a budding alcoholic.

At home, Walter and Bitsy are taking the faux-parenting thing a little too far. Walter is making decisions that Davey's mom should be making--like if Davey can go skiing or take driver's ed. He bitches the girl out for wanting to take typing class instead of chemistry. She wants to have an easier year! Again, her dad was just murdered! I'd like to think that MIT would understand. The truth is that Walter and Bitsy want to make Davey into the kid they wish they could have had. Perfect. All-American. The winner of the Sarah Rose Cosmetics Mount Rose American Teen Princess Pageant.

In an attempt to find something to do (and get Walter and Bitsy off her back), Davey becomes a candy striper with Jane. Once a week, Davey trots over to the hospital to pass water and other excitement. There, Davey meets a terminally ill man. She really enjoys talking to the man and spends as much time with him as she can. In a sweet gesture, the man promises Davey a dancing bear toy--after he dies. His son, a college student/Lab employee, got it for him. His son that visits at 2:00p everyday. His son, Wolf.

Davey didn't see that coming at all. Wolf is really Martin. He's going to college to be a physicist but took a semester off to spend time with his dad. Aww. This really solidifies the crush that Davey's been sporting. She dreams about Wolf. Dreams. *nudgenudge*

Wolf gives Davey a ride home from the hospital and all hell breaks loose when Walter sees that a Hispanic drove her home. Ah, racial tension. Walter didn't need to get his whitey-tighties in a twist, though. Wolf's dad dies shortly thereafter and Wolf up and disappears. (Davey tried writing him at his college, but the letter was returned-to-sender-ed.)

The school year is coming to a close. Davey gets a part in Oklahoma! Jane auditioned but revealed herself to be a tone deaf drunk. (Who auditions for a high school musical drunk? Thoughts on this, Zac Efron?) After the musical, Walter chills a bit when he sees that Davey does have an interest in something. (Walter and Davey got in a huge fight about Davey's grades--B's and C's. He went so far as to crack her on the face. After that, the two didn't speak. For weeks.)

Everything is working out for Davey. Except for Wolf leaving. And her mother's new relationship with the Nerd, a middle-aged divorcĂ©e. Then, Davey's mom reveals that the Nerd has proposed...and she turned him down. In fact, Davey's mom has made plans for the family to move back to New Jersey and to sell the 7-11. Davey is elated over this news. In a show of closure, she goes back to the canyon where she met Wolf. In a cave, she buries a paper bag under a pile of rocks. Inside the bag are the clothes she wore the night her father was murdered. Nearby, she leaves a stack of letters under a rock in hopes of Wolf finding them.

The last page has Davey, Jason, and their mom walking on the beach in New Jersey.

Okay. Stay with me here. I was a pretty classic Judy Blume reader--Are You There God, It's Me Margaret; Deenie; the Fudge Series; Just As Long as We're Together. That is as deep into JB as I got. I regret not reading this sooner. I may have found myself relating to Davey a little too much. Especially considering my dad is alive and well, I've never been to New Mexico, and I don't have a d-bag uncle that controls my life.
  • Davey is short for Davis. That was Davey's mom's maiden name. I think that's cute. I was really confused by the whole girl-Davey thing at first, though. It's works for her.
  • Why didn't the nurse know that Davey's dad had been murdered? Doesn't the school notify staff about students' "special conditions"?
    • I am with Davey on the frustration of being asked if she's pregnant. Can't a girl just be sick? I realize they're trying to prevent having prom Melissa Drexler-style...but it is possible for a girl to be sick without it meaning she has some guy's spawn breaking dancing in her hoo-ha.
  • I'm completely with Davey on planning on how to bash Wolf's head in when they first meet. I, too, am convinced that I'm going to be murdered. In the past, I may have purposely left hair behind and rubbed on stuff so bloodhounds and CSI people could track me. Girl needs to be prepared. 
    • I understand that Davey's mom is under a lot of stress and is depressed. Her husband was just murdered. But it drove me crazy how she constantly deferred any parental decision to Walter and Bitsy. It almost felt like she was letting Walter make decisions because he was the one with a penis.
    • Jane is a girl without a filter. She's named Jane so no there will never be confusion about her name--unlike Davey. She freely tells Davey (who she just met) that her parents make love on Saturdays. Jane's sister and brother-in-law were virgins when they got married.
      • Dear Jane, It's not TMI Thursday. Back off!
    • I can relate to how Davey felt watching Jane get drunk and all hot and heavy in the car. Jane clearly doesn't realize what she's doing. (Or does she?) It's uncomfortable for everyone not involved...
    • Well into the book, Davey starts seeing the same therapist as her mom. 
      • Why did it take so long for Davey to start going to therapy? The book was published in the late 1970's, so maybe therapy wasn't quite what is today. If anything deserves a trip to a therapist's office, though, it's holding you father as he dies.
    • I was so angry with the way Walter and Bitsy reacted to learning about Wolf. They assume he works as Lab maintenance because he's Hispanic. Really? Walter, were you not the one telling Davey about the Lab's efforts to attract more minorities into research positions at the Lab?
    • Hugh sent Davey a Valentine's Day card. It was the first time she'd heard from him since October. So it's safe to assume he's not her boyfriend anymore, right?
      • Maybe this isn't so bad. They're fifteen. And it's in the days before e-mail. Or cell phones. Or texting. And her dad did just die.
    • About Walter and Davey's fight--holy hell. Walter tells Davey that her parents both have a "wasted life." When Davey goes to defend her parents, Walter slaps her.
      • Whoa. Just whoa. And all because the girl didn't 4.0? So she got a C and a couple Bs on her report card. She did just hold her father while he died! Cut the girl some slack! Not everyone wants to be a physicist like the Almighty Walter. Except for Janine Kishi.
    • Davey gets a part in Oklahoma! Little Davey will be playing the part of Ado Annie. I'm glad she did what she wanted to do.
    • I wasn't devastated when Wolf's dad died. I didn't feel a big connection with him. I felt more for Wolf and Davey. The book didn't spend enough time with him for me to get attached.
      • Maybe that was the point. The book is more about someone else's grief than my grief over a fictional character.
    • I don't want to judge or anything...but isn't Davey's mom moving a little fast with the Nerd? He's proposing?!
      • I was relieved that Davey's mom turned down the proposal. Mhm. Too fast.
    • Jane is a bit of a bitch for flippin' on Davey for being a "liar." Davey told Jane that her dad died of a heart attack. Because she didn't want to talk about the murder. Where is Jane's compassion? Can't she cut Davey a little slack?
    • I was actually disappointed when Davey and her family moved back to New Jersey. Yes, the move to New Mexico was supposed be just a two week trip. Yes, they do have a business/house to sell. Yes, Walter was overbearing somethin' awful. But what about Wolf? What about the Nerd? Does the family keep in touch with them?
    • Judy Blume admitted that this is the only book she voluntarily censored. In order to attract a broader audience, she took out passages that involved Davey masturbating while she thought about Wolf.
    • According to Judy's blog, she's working on the screen adaptation. Woo!
    • I was searching for a cover picture on Amazon when I came across this gem.
        • The worst part? This is the "cleaner" cover for a book by this name. The other one--which had a different author--involved live models. The woman was arching backward in...pain...yeah, and the guy was, uh, checking her heart rate. By holding onto her rather bodacious boob. Obviously, I went with this cover because it doesn't make me want to scratch my eyes out.
        • Did I mention that I want to scratch  my eyes out? What would Walter say?


      1. This is definitely the best Blume book. It's the one I got signed when I met her at National Book Festival last year. She told me that she and her son are writing a Tiger Eyes screenplay!

        Walter and Jane suck. They're both unbelievably racist.

      2. I bought this at a Value Village, and I paid 99 cents. Did I get ripped off?

        I totally understand your book addiction. I have probably five crates of books in my closet that need to be read, mostly bought off ebay, and I can't seem to stop. My boyfriend doesn't even bat an eyelash anymore when there's a huge box of books waiting by the door.

      3. Nikki: A screenplay makes me excited! Especially if Judy and her son are writing it. So many book-to-movie transitions suck because the screenwriter leaves out what the reader sees as major points. Hopefully, it'll do the book justice!

        Jen: I'm sorry, but I think you were overcharged. You may need to report Value Village for price gouging!

      4. I love this book. I was upset when they went back to New Jersey too. I'm psyched that Judy's writing a screenplay!

        And I have a serious book addiction. I have about 500 books and I don't plan to stop buying them any time soon.

      5. I loved this book, too. I actually first heard about it because someone (I think Dawn or MA) reads it in a BSC book.

      6. I've always loved this book. Then again, I've always loved every book by Judy Blume (and I've read them all). I hadn't heard about the screenplay but that's great! I hope they keep the setting (in the 70s, I mean).

      7. I just came across your blog. I think I'm in love with you?

        Related to this post - Judy Blume ftw. Favorite book "Starring Sally J Freedman As Herself." Though it bothered me that she NEVER EVER EVER used commas. Just ellipses.


        Related to the rest of the blog - BSC...I have so many memories, hahaha, but please keep going with it, because I am not going to re-read them myself and your commentary is awesome.

        If you have time afterwards, PLEASE DO BSLS. That bitch Karen and her book series were the bane of my existence and yet I kept reading them. I have yet to figure out what "gigundoly" means, though.

      8. Ms. Lilac, don't you worry. I just finished reading "Sally J. Freedman" yesterday.

        I may own more BSLS books than is healthy...