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A Washington Post Notable Nonfiction Book for 2011
A Globe and Mail Best Books of the Year 2011 Title
Tiger, Tiger is a Publishers Weekly Best Nonfiction title for 2011
A Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction of 2011 title
One summer day, Margaux Fragoso meets Peter Curran at the neighborhood swimming pool, and they begin to play. She is seven; he is fifty-one. When Peter invites her and her mother to his house, the little girl finds a child's paradise of exotic pets and an elaborate backyard garden. Her mother, beset by mental illness and overwhelmed by caring for Margaux, is grateful for the attention Peter lavishes on her, and he creates an imaginative universe for her, much as Lewis Carroll did for his real-life Alice.
In time, he insidiously takes on the role of Margaux's playmate, father, and lover. Charming and manipulative, Peter burrows into every aspect of Margaux's life and transforms her from a child fizzing with imagination and affection into a brainwashed young woman on the verge of suicide. But when she is twenty-two, it is Peter—ill, and wracked with guilt—who kills himself, at the age of sixty-six.
Told with lyricism, depth, and mesmerizing clarity, Tiger, Tiger vividly illustrates the healing power of memory and disclosure. This extraordinary memoir is an unprecedented glimpse into the psyche of a young girl in free fall and conveys to readers—including parents and survivors of abuse—just how completely a pedophile enchants his victim and binds her to him.
In this gut-wrenching memoir of sexual abuse, Fragoso, who has written short stories for various literary magazines, explores with unflinching honesty the ways in which pedophiles can manipulate their way into the lives of children. Fragoso met Peter Curran at a public pool in Union City, N.J., in 1985 when she was seven and he was 51. He seemed harmless, and invited Fragoso and her mother back to his house. This marked the beginning of Curran and Fragoso's 15-year relationship, which ended when Curran committed suicide at age 66. Fragoso's home life was strained her mother was in and out of psychiatric wards and her father was an alcoholic and Curran's home, with its myriad pets and lack of rules, became her refuge. The sexual abuse began slowly, progressing to oral sex in Curran's basement, an act that he requested as a "birthday present." Fragoso's sense of alienation Curran controlled her world for more than half her life is palpable in her telling. Using her own diaries and the myriad letters, diaries, and photographs Curran left behind, Fragoso eloquently depicts psychological and sexual abuse in disturbing detail.