Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume

Book Info
Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume
©1981 Atheneum Books, New York, NY
ISBN 978-0689858727

Plot Summary
Fifteen year-old Davey Wexler is mourning the loss of her father, who was tragically killed during a robbery at the Atlantic City 7-Eleven convenience store where he was employed. The surviving family includes Davey, her mother, and her younger brother Jason who are all left in complete shock. Davey’s mother decides it best for the family to have a change of scenery in order to heal and escape the constant reminders of the recent tragedy. The family sets off for Los Alamos, New Mexico to stay with Davey’s father’s relatives, her Aunt Bitsy and Uncle Walter. With the help of her mysterious new friend Wolf, and her volunteer job as a candy striper at a local hospital, Davey struggles to overcome her fears and learn how to deal with her grief and not blame herself for her father’s death. Can Davey and her family move on from their misfortune and start a new life?

Reader’s Annotation
In the wake of her father’s death, Davey and her family relocate to New Mexico to try to pick up the pieces of their lives. Can Davey overcome her fears and come to terms with her grief?

Critical Evaluation
Judy Blume has been one of the most prolific writers of children’s and young adult fiction since about 1970, with Tiger Eyes being one of her great works. The book masterfully tackles tough issues and really captures the feelings and transformations that take place in the grieving process. Davey’s father was brutally killed during a robbery when Davey was 15 and the book tells the story of the grieving and healing process for her and her family. Blume likes to write about real life and does not shy away from complex issues and for this reason is often the source of major controversy. Tiger Eyes is no exception as a regular on the ALA frequently challenged and banned books list. The reasons for challenge often stem from the book discussing suicide, alcoholism and violent behavior, but in my opinion it’s these controversial topics that make this book amazing.

Information about the Author
Judy Blume spent her childhood in Elizabeth, New Jersey, making up stories inside her head. She has spent her adult years in many places doing the same thing, only now she writes her stories down on paper. Judy received a B.S. in education from New York University in 1961, which named her a Distinguished Alumna in 1996, the same year the American Library Association honored her with the Margaret A. Edwards Award for Lifetime Achievement. Other recognitions include the Library of Congress Living Legends Award and the 2004 National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.

Judy is a longtime advocate of intellectual freedom. Finding herself at the center of an organized book banning campaign in the 1980’s she began to reach out to other writers, as well as teachers and librarians, who were under fire. Since then, she has worked tirelessly with the National Coalition Against Censorship to protect the freedom to read. She is the editor of Places I Never Meant To Be, Original Stories by Censored Writers.

From the author’s website.

Realistic Fiction, Drama

Curriculum Ties
English, Sociology

Booktalking Ideas
Discuss Davey’s loss and how she deals with her grief.

Reading Level/ Interest Age

Challenge Issues

  • Violence
  • Death
  • Suicide
  • Alcoholism

Defense options

  • Be aware of your library’s collection development policy.
  • Be familiar with the material in question, and the context of the questionable content.
  • Assert the principles of the ALA Library Bill of Rights, and standards of intellectual freedom.
  • Consult online book reviews, and others who have read the book.
    • As one of the most frequently challenged authors and books, there is a wealth of information on the internet regarding defense.

Why Included?
I am ashamed to admit that I hadn’t read much Judy Blume in my life, and while I was working on a term paper on Intellectual Freedom, Blume’s name came up often. Tiger Eyes in particular do to it being the only book Blume ever censored herself, prior to publishing. In the original version, there was a pivotal moment when Davey is finally escaping the numbness she felt since her father died and she masturbated to thoughts of Wolf. This scene was removed in favor of reaching a wider audience, but still piqued my interest to read it as a classic, and classically challenged book.


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