This weekend, I watched the movie, then reread the book Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume.
Tiger Eyes was written by Judy Blume in 1981. I don’t know when I first read it, but I’ll guess I was over ten or so. I’ve always really liked this book, but unlike, say, Just As Long As We’re Together, which I read about once a week when I hit seventh grade and can probably talk hours about, my feeling for Tiger Eyes aren’t so articulated.
The story centers on Davey Wexler, whose father has just been killed in a convenience story hold up. Unable to cope with life at home after the tragedy, Davey’s mother packs the family up and moves to New Mexico to live with her sister-in-law Bitsey and her husband, Walter. There, Davey meets a boy who introduces himself as Wolf. They form a connection while hiking a nearby canyon. She later discovers that his father is dying, and he ends up being the person to whom she bares her soul, in letter form.
As a kid, I found the relationship between Davey and Wolf strangely romantic and touching. They never kissed, they never really talked (he leaves in the book and she leaves her letters for him to find), but there is a deep understanding between the two of them.
I was disappointed the film made their relationship more explicit. Wolf stays around longer, there’s kissing and cuddling, and there’s no letters. I understand that, from a movie standpoint, it was needed, but it took something away for me.
I also didn’t like how either the book or the movie (but especially the movie) treated Davey’s mother’s depression. In the book, she gets migraines and is given medication that renders her confined to the room. Davey tells her to stop taking the medication and Gwen (the mom) never has trouble again. In the movie, Gwen has a panic attack. I assumed she was taking some kind of anti-anxiety medication. It ended being the same deal, only you got to watch Gwen throw the pills away. I really resent the idea that a) medication for depression/anxiety is a crutch and you just need to “try harder” to recover from it and, b) it’s in any way safe to take yourself off medication that affects your brain without consulting a doctor. It’s a really outdated idea and it should have been altered for the movie.
I did really like that there was a kind of timeless quality to the setting. It looks like it’s probably set today, based on costuming and hair, but there’s no cell phones or texting or computers. It was jarring once during the film, which is why I noticed it, but, overall, it wasn’t needed and not having there let the story stand on its own.
The actors were all really good. The movie belonged to Willa Holland, who played Davey. She was strong in every scene and was engaging to watch.
Book: 4/5 stars