After Davey’s father is killed in a hold-up, she and her mother and younger brother visit relatives in New Mexico. Here Davey is befriended by a young man who helps her find the strength to carry on and conquer her fears.
Although there’s a violent crime at the center of the story, Tiger Eyes isn’t about violence. It’s about the sudden, tragic loss of someone you love. I lost my beloved father suddenly, when I was 21. He died, not as the result of a violent crime, but of a heart attack at home. I was with him. I still can’t write this without choking up, remembering. Davey’s feelings about her father’s sudden death were based on mine, though I’m not sure I was aware of it while I was writing the book.
I lived in Los Alamos, New Mexico, the setting of the book, for two years. My teenaged children went to school there. It wasn’t a happy experience but it helped me write what George (my husband) and Larry (my grown son) think is my best book. It allowed me to write about a world I would never have known, about characters I’d never have imagined. Yet I didn’t start to write this book until I’d left the town (and the relationship that took me there) and was able to look back. A few years ago, Larry and I wrote a screenplay and made a movie version.
When Wolf asks for Davey’s name, she tells him Tiger. Later on in the story he tells her she has sad eyes.
I met George (who became my husband) while I was writing the book. It’s true that life with him is a great adventure, in any language.
“This is a masterly novel.”
–Jean Fritz, The New York Times Book Review