Tigers, Not Daughters // Pages 1 - 70 Discussion

As part of my new goal to read more books by Hispanic authors and about Hispanic experiences, I'll be discussing a Hispanic based book of my choice every Thursday. The first book I've chosen is Tigers, Not Daughters by Samantha Mabry. It's a young adult contemporary/magical realism story centering around the Torres sisters a year after the death of the eldest sister. Strange things start happening around the house that suggests their sister is trying to communicate with them or warn them of danger. In this post I'll be discussing my thoughts on pages 1 -70. This is of course, not spoiler free. If you would like to join, I would love to hear your thoughts.

The Introduction

What an introduction. I love that the book started off with an outsider's point of view. There seems to be a theme of judgemental neighbors or in this case idolization of the Torres sisters, specifically Ana. Ana is pointed out as a troublemaker on the first page. She's seductively taking off her clothes while she knows she has an audience looking on. I thought it was a brilliant way to paint what everyone sees Ana as from an outside point of view but of course, that's not all who she is.

The sisters following each other by age also gave me a good first look at who each of them could potentially be like by the way they climbed down the tree. The thing that got me the most was that they were all going together. They weren't leaving everyone behind and as you get a closer look at how the father reacted when he caught them trying to run away, you understood they had a bond.

"The window to Ana Torres's second-story bedroom faced Hector's house, and every night she'd undress with the curtains wide open, in full view of the street."
The eldest sister, Ana is cast as the mysterious, promiscuous one. I found it interesting in later chapters that she was the one who her father leaned on the most. She's not as one dimensional on the outside as she is first shown. I liked how her relationship and how her father saw her were laid out. Also, her sisters Iridian and Jessica clearly see her in one particular way. Her sister Rosa's thoughts on Ana are still a mystery to be seen.


Jessica surprised me. I thought she was one but she was another. I thought she was just this fiery girl who took nothing from no one but she is quick to tear up. She essentially is like a second Ana but more screwed up. Her sexual relationship with John mirrors Ana's supposed sexual relationship with older men. Her relationship with her father is the same as Ana's. They both want to get away from their father but at the same time take care of him. They let his behaviors slide and make excuses for him. She's also very much that determined-don't-mess-with-me girl who clearly has a soft side but doesn't want anyone knowing. I'm curious about her story arc and if it's possible that later on in the story Ana is trying to warn the sisters from getting stuck in that town, with those judgemental neighbors, taking care of their needy father.

Speaking of those judgemental neighbors, they also have helped the sisters by consoling them, bringing food, and taking Rosa to church. But they've also turned a blind eye on the way their controlling father who is up to his eyeballs in debt and is just no good at all. This might be true in all families, but I've felt that Hispanic families tend to not air things out. They ignore problems and get on with life. 
"Even with a little square of pink crepe paper stuck just above her right eyebrow, Jessica Torres was still scary as hell. It seemed like she was always. always angry."
Jessica's anger is something I want to get further into. She's been on guard since she was young. Angry at the world. It seems to me that she's fiercely loyal and really doesn't like people telling her who she is, what she should do, or judge her family without knowing them. Case in point, that beautiful attack on a priest who patronized her which is why I find it strange the way she takes care of her dad. He's an older man who's basically sucking the joy out of her but she doesn't see it or she just excuses it. It's the same thing with her boyfriend. He is such a loser. She asked him to leave with her and his response was that his family needed him. Her thoughts said a thousand words, "Jessica held in a snicker. He'd never had a job. His mom spoiled him rotten, and since his car broke down in the spring, all he'd done this summer was stay home and fix his little cousin grilled cheese sandwiches for lunches every day." I think this story will go into self-worth. Jessica doesn't have self-worth. She even can't handle a nice guy like Peter being nice to her: "Jessica was a terrible, terribly judgemental, rude and selfish person, and, because of that, Peter and Peter's kindness made her feel even worse about herself than she already did." I really felt that statement. I could see some of the good and negative sides of Jessica in me which is probably why I am so invested in how she grows.

"Emotions were hard for Iridian. She liked to read about them in books, but hated when they crept and settled in her bones."
Iridian for sure sounds like she's the older sister. She's above her sister's crying and pandering to her father. She's tired of her father and doesn't want anything to do with him. She's what I expected out of Jessica but her first appearance climbing down the tree makes so much sense. She has self-worth that I believe her sister is lacking. She's confident and knows who she is. She's also probably a little too hard on others. I can see her in me as well and it's not just that she loves reading. 

It made sense that it was Iridian was the one who revealed how Ana died. I audibly gasped when it was revealed. It all came full circle. 

I found it funny that Iridian liked paranormal romance type of books. All those types of books were popular when I was a teenager so it was funny to see. I enjoyed the way she thought. Her internal monologue on Ana put into perspective that she loved her sister and couldn't get away from her and the grief she caused. 

Iridian getting called out by her father as a miserable girl who tries to make everyone else miserable - calling her a disease - was perfect. I loved it so much because true to Iridian's personality, she brushed it off and is using it in her writing. I would love to see her vulnerable side. I'm sure it's going to peak through eventually.

"We'd always thought that if Rosa were an element, she'd be air, the lazy kind that gets tossed around a room when a ceiling fan is on its lowest setting."
There has only been a glimpse of Rosa so far but she has the dreamer, good girl archetype to her. She also has her touch of independence that seems to be in all the Torres' sister's DNA. Going out in the middle of the night to just try to find a hyena? First of all, this screams no parental figures are watching out for her and that she's leading her life the way she wants to. She's the hopeful sister. I like that about her.

"Ana was the one who told Rosa, long before Father Canty ever did, that she was full of magic, that she was different and had a heart that was better-crafted than most people's."

I love how she embraces who she is. I also like that she still goes to church. I get to see a Catholic in my reading which is rare. Overall though I'm hoping I get more of her perspective. How Ana's death has affected her personally and what her relationship with her was before she died.


The Torres' sister's dad is a piece of work. The first chapter in and how he basically manipulated the neighbor in saying he's so worried while then being sort of passively physical with the girls said all it needed for me to know what type of man he is. I'm sure he was truly worried about his daughters but he's more concerned with them leaving. If they leave, who will take care of him? Who will deal with all of his problems? Who will ignore the obvious controlling, loser man that he is? I would love to see more of what he gets up to and his relationship with the girls. I guess since I haven't had much of Rosa's perspective, her relationship with her father seems nonexistent. I wonder if it'll progress or if it's intentional since her birth did cause the death of his wife.

Overall Thoughts

I'm thrilled with how everything started and is playing out in Tigers, Not Daughters. I haven't read any writing style like Mabry's before and it's a breath of fresh air. I'm looking forward to seeing how all the relationships and individual characters grow throughout the story. I'm thinking that the magical realism element or ghost of Ana will come in for the next page reads. I'm looking forward to that new layer in the story. Let me know what you thought of these pages in the comments. What do you think about the sisters and which one stands out to you so far?


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