Wednesday, January 11, 2012
REVIEW: Tiger, Tiger by Margaux Fragoso
Genre: Memoir/Adult Nonfiction
Summary: Margaux Fragoso was seven when she met pedophile Peter Curran at a neighborhood swimming pool. Peter was 51. Quickly, Peter's world—a wonderland of exotic pets and play—became the center of Margaux's life. Her mentally ill mother thought Peter was practically "Jesus in another life" and for Marguax, Peter became the all-consuming person: friend, playmate, father... lover. Their relationship lasted 15 years. This memoir is absolutely gut-wrenching, and a fearlessly honest account of sexual abuse and family dysfunction.
This is a difficult book to read. Descriptions of the physical relationship are graphic at times, but not nearly as sensationalistic as one might fear. No, the real horror here is the way Fragoso manages to humanize a child molester, showing his perspective while laying bare the destruction of her childhood without self-pity or judgement. It is this last point—the lack of outright condemnation—that is astonishing. I was awed by Fragoso's storytelling, which skillfully allows readers to experience Curran as the object of a young Margaux's adoration even as we recognize the calculating manipulations of a predator. It is an uncomfortable balance at times—Fragoso is too candid to deny her love for her molester—but it provides important and fascinating insight into the mind of a victim. The erosion of Margaux's sense of reality is devastating, and at times I was horrified to catch myself almost sympathizing with Peter. Peter insidiously worked his way into Margaux's world, and as a writer Fragoso is equally skilled at pulling the reader into the world that they shared. This is an intensely disturbing book, but also a beautiful one.