THE TIGER'S CHILD by Torey Hayden


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 Sheila, the mute, abused six-year-old protagonist of Hayden's bestselling One Child (not reviewed), returns in a fast- paced, real-life narrative that rewards the reader with a happy ending. The author begins with a brief review of the five months Sheila spent in her special education class. Abandoned by her mother (who pushed her out of a car onto the highway), regularly mistreated by her father's friends and drug suppliers, the troubled child had set fire to a smaller boy. Hayden established a close relationship with Sheila, bringing her out of her silence and seeing her enrolled in a regular classroom, but then left town to attend graduate school. When she meets Sheila again, the girl is a punk fashion plate of 14, still living with her father. Sheila denies most memories of her early relationship with the teacher, but they pursue a shaky friendship, though Hayden is worried by an undercurrent of anger not really explained by Sheila's expression of hurt over her departure eight years earlier. The teen provokes a crisis in the summer school program where they both work when she disappears for several days with a young student, resurrecting fears of the earlier fire-setting incident. This leads to a startling revelation: Muddling her memories of abandonment, Sheila believes it was Hayden who pushed her out of the car. She launches a disastrous search for her mother and spends time in a high-security institution for problem children, but eventually graduates from high school and begins a successful career managing a fast-food restaurant. Her adventures occur against the background of Hayden's love affairs and work in a psychiatric clinic, revealing the author as neither the self- sacrificing saint Sheila accuses her of wanting to be, nor much of a sinner. An effective chronicle of a relationship full of potholes that nonetheless brings both student and teacher further along the road to maturity.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-02-549150-4
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Scribner
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1995