Sunday, July 10, 2011

Tiger Tiger by Margaux Fragoso

This is a brave memoir about a fifteen-year relationship between a child, Margaux, and a pedophile, Peter. What's disturbing about this type of abuse is that it is couched in terms of 'love'. The abuser is a charming man in his fifties who works his way seamlessly into the life and family of a seven-year old girl. He befriends the mother who, albeit suffering from her own mental illness, adores him, going so far as to compare him to Jesus in all his benevolence. His house provides a playful and relaxing refuge for Mother and daughter away from the chaos of Margaux's alcoholic father, gradually allowing Peter the trust he needs to get close and physical with the young girl. He says he loves her, and doesn't she love him too? He buys her things and takes her places and uses his adoration as currency punishing her with 'excruciating' silent treatments when she misbehaves. Being as starved for affection as she was, his attention soon became her drug.

There were so many red flags regarding their relationship throughout this story, it's hard to know which one to point to first. There were people who were suspicious but did nothing; and then there were people who should have been suspicious but weren't. I was baffled to witness such blatant, almost willful, ignorance.

The author has been criticized for being too frank and graphic in the retelling of her story, but I couldn't disagree more. It's not any more frank or graphic than any other memoir I've read, and isn't that the point for better understanding? Especially of such heinous abuse that thrives on silence and looking the other way. I couldn't believe some of the scathing reviews I've read, as if this woman hasn't been victimized enough. Being vocal about some aspects of her experience and silent about others would just support the shame that keeps so many victims from seeking help and healing at all.

Memoirs of abuse are also stories of survival. I read them to better understand human nature in all its frailties, deficiencies, resilience, and strength. Ms Fragoso is frank and unabashed, yes, but she brings much needed awareness and insight into a crime that continues to destroy lives. This is an important book that should be read by everyone in a society that wants to protect its children.

4 comments:

BookQuoter said...

This will probably be a difficult read, as most cases of abuse are. You are so right, the fact that it brings awareness to it's existence is a good thing.

You are very welcome to link my post. I should thank you:)

Sam said...

I recently read this too. I couldn't believe how many of the other reviews seemed to blame Margaux for what happened to her and for telling her story honestly.

I think lots of the adults knew, but actively didn't WANT to know so refused to acknowledge it. Especially the dad and Ines.

My review, in case you're interested:
http://tinylibrary.blogspot.com/2011/06/tiger-tiger-by-margaux-fragoso.html

Harry Nicholson said...

That will be a read to far for me, but well done for reviewing it.
And thanks for visiting 1513fusion and 'moonfleet'.
Harry

Trish said...

bookquoter - yes, it's a difficult but very moving read, that's for sure.

sam - I couldn't believe how oblivious the dad and ines were! The dad drove me nuts with his constant ranting about 'honor' and relentlessly belittling his daughter.

harry - thanks, you have some very interesting art!