Tigers, Not Daughters

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
Tigers, Not Daughters Book Poster Image
Grieving sisters find strength in enchanting, ghostly drama.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Tigers, Not Daughters offers the chance to discuss sibling rivalry, domestic abuse, and sisterhood.

Positive Messages

Siblings should work together in times of adversity. Domestic abuse should never be tolerated.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Tigers, Not Daughters focuses on four sisters: angry Jessica, bookish Iridian, spiritual Rosa, and recently deceased Ana. Although very different from one another, the girls find common bonds when they need to protect themselves.


A few disturbing scenes that involve domestic violence. One sister's boyfriend hits her, and the other sisters defend her. One sister attacks a priest.


Boys spy on the eldest sister as she undresses. Jessica mentions having sex with her boyfriend in his car.


Frequent uses of "f--k" and "s--t." One or two instances of "bitch."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The girls' father is drunk in a number of scenes.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Tigers, Not Daughters is a fantasy novel by Samantha Mabry (All the Wind in the World) set in San Antonia, Texas. The motherless Torres sisters experience even greater heartbreak when the eldest falls to her death sneaking out through a second-story window. Their grieving, irresponsible father leaves the survivors to look after themselves, while insisting they obey his capricious rules. The novel features a handful of violent scenes, most involving domestic abuse. In terms of sexual content, one sister mentions having sex in her boyfriend's car, and young boys spy on a girl while she dresses. Swearing is fairly frequent -- a dozen or so instances of "s--t" and "f--k." The girls' father is drunk in a number of scenes. 

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What's the story?

As TIGERS, NOT DAUGHTERS opens, the three surviving Torres sisters are still mourning the accidental death of Ana, their oldest sibling. Jessica works at a pharmacy to help put food on the table. Iridiana tries to lose herself in reading and writing. Rosa communes with nature, including an escaped hyena. Each sister is being haunted by Ana, who seems to want them to do something about their precarious living situation. Can the Torres girls come together to put the past away and find better lives for themselves?

Is it any good?

Stories of families in crisis are tremendously popular, and this ghostly tale of four sisters brims with atmosphere and enchantment. Tigers, Not Daughters takes inspiration from King Lear, Anne Rice, and Little Women. Set in San Antonio, Texas, the plot is a rich mixture of magical realism and domestic drama. Each Torres sister is a force to be reckoned with, and author Samantha Mabry gives them plenty of opportunities to display their multidimensionality. As the tension builds to a haunted, explosive conclusion, readers will find themselves rooting for the girls and wishing for their healing. Tough, earthy, and humorous, Tigers, Not Daughters will please a wide readership.


Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Tigers, Not Daughters addresses the subject of the supernatural. Do you think ghosts can communicate with those they have left behind?

  • How do people deal with grief? Is there a "right" way to do it? What kinds of help are available to people who have lost loved ones?

  • What defines an abusive relationship? What kinds of support do victims need?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love ghost stories and Latinx books

Themes & Topics

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