Review: Music for Tigers by Michelle Kadarusman

Music for Tigers by Michelle Kadarusman

Music for Tigers
Michelle Kadarusman
Pajama Press
Published April 28, 2020

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About Music for Tigers

Shipped halfway around the world to spend the summer with her mom’s eccentric Australian relatives, middle schooler and passionate violinist Louisa is prepared to be resentful. But life at the family’s remote camp in the Tasmanian rainforest is intriguing, to say the least. There are pig-footed bandicoots, scary spiders, weird noises and odors in the night, and a quirky boy named Colin who cooks the most amazing meals. Not the least strange is her Uncle Ruff, with his unusual pet and veiled hints about something named Convict Rock.

Finally, Louisa learns the truth: Convict Rock is a sanctuary established by her great-grandmother Eleanor—a sanctuary for Tasmanian tigers, Australia’s huge marsupials that were famously hunted into extinction almost a hundred years ago. Or so the world believes. Hidden in the rainforest at Convict Rock, one tiger remains. But now the sanctuary is threatened by a mining operation, and the last Tasmanian tiger must be lured deeper into the forest. The problem is, not since her great-grandmother has a member of the family been able to earn the shy tigers’ trust.

As the summer progresses, Louisa forges unexpected connections with Colin, with the forest, and—through Eleanor’s journal—with her great-grandmother. She begins to suspect the key to saving the tiger is her very own music. But will her plan work? Or will the enigmatic Tasmanian tiger disappear once again, this time forever?

A moving coming-of-age story wrapped up in the moss, leaves, and blue gums of the Tasmanian rainforest where, hidden under giant ferns, crouches its most beloved, and lost, creature.

Music for Tigers on Goodreads

My Review

I feel like this book slipped right into my TBR calendar almost as elusively as the Tasmanian tigers in the story. I’d never heard of a Tasmanian tiger or Thylacine until reading MUSIC FOR TIGERS. As I read descriptions of them– the stiff tail, dog-like face, tiger stripes– my curiosity only grew until I had to look online and get a visual for it. I found some video footage of the last Tasmanian tiger in captivity. It’s pretty wild looking!

In terms of the story, I loved Louisa from the getgo. I loved her passion for her music and felt a kinship with her over her battle with anxiety. I loved the way her relationship with her uncle developed as well as with her neighbor, Colin, who is possibly my favorite character in the whole book. I definitely identified with his mom and her heartbreak over Colin’s hurts and loneliness. She so wants him to find his people, and I absolutely feel like I get that.

The plot was not what drove the story for me. I think I kept wanting them to come up with a way to save the camp or raise awareness of the animals that destroying it endangered. But that wasn’t really the story. It was more an internal growth story about Louisa coming to understand her family and fall in love with things she didn’t expect to, which I really love, but it’s hard to make that as compelling a plot as something more concrete.

On the whole, I’m super glad I read this book and really enjoyed it. I think fans of BE LIGHT LIKE A BIRD or CHIRP will enjoy MUSIC FOR TIGERS. I know I’ll be recommending it!

Music for Tigers on Amazon

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 8 to 12.

Characters are white — Canadian or Australian. One character is non-neurotypical and has ASD.

Profanity/Crude Language Content

Romance/Sexual Content

Spiritual Content
Some rumors of ghosts at Convict Rock (though Louisa doesn’t really believe the stories) and sometimes Louisa hears piano music– perhaps like her grandmother used to play.

Violent Content

Drug Content
Louisa’s uncle spends the night in town after drinking too much at a bar after losing someone he cares about.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support the costs of running this blog. I received a free copy of MUSIC FOR TIGERS in exchange for my honest review.

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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

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