TIGER, TIGER A Memoir By: Margaux Fragoso – Book Review

To the outside world, Margaux has everything she needs. She has a roof over her head and healthy, home-cooked meals. Her father works in a jewelry store while her mother stays at home to look after their daughter. They have a car. Margaux has an allowance, new clothes, and excels at school. At first glance, Margaux is just another kid.

Except that there is nothing normal about Margaux’s life, or her 51 year old boyfriend.

At home, Margaux is continually tormented by her promiscuous, alcoholic father who routinely calls her a burden, criticizes her looks, and attacks her mother. When he’s not screaming at them, he  spends the rest of his time drinking away the family’s money. At an early age, her relationship with her father is based on stroking his ego and trying to live up to his impossible expectations. She continually seeks his approval, often unsuccessfully. The parental guidance is further absent from Margaux’s mentally ill, tormented mother, who spends most of her life shuffling in and out of mental institutions.

Margaux was seven years old when she met Peter. In Peter, she found all of the things she craved so badly. She yearned for love, approval, affection, guidance, and fantasy.  It is these qualities that attracted her to Peter, and it is these emotional voids that pedophiles seek in their next victims.

Thus began the long, painful, and disturbing journey of manipulation and abuse. Each chapter unfolds the tactics Peter so poignantly planned and effortlessly executed to gain Margaux’s trust, like a seasoned professional excelling at his trade. In exchange for the love that Margaux so desperately yearned for, she had to sacrifice her soul, her very inner being, her childhood, her innocence.

As their relationship progressed, so did the abuse. Peter violated her sexually, physically, and emotionally. He destroyed Margaux’s spirit and shred of self-esteem, yet she continued to see Peter as much as possible. It became her addiction, a dependency that she knew was harmful but could not escape, believing that “without Peter to see me, to adore me, how could I exist?”. Even when people in their community started questioning their relationship, her father was more concerned with his reputation rather than his own daughter’s safety.

A “social failure at school”, Margaux didn’t know how to balance friends her own age and her secret life with a man considered to be a senior citizen. To deal with the perpetuating self-hate, she created a personality, a pseudo character she called “Nina”. Through Nina, she could escape the sexual favours Peter demanded, and release the anger and hatred he had brought on to her for so many years.

Tiger Tiger is the definition of what is raw; her pain penetrates the page and reaches your soul like only true and authentic suffering can. At times, it is so disturbing and vulgar that I had to put it down out of pure outrage and disgust. Fragoso takes you into the mind of a pedophile and his victim, and the fifteen year relationship that exploits the ceaseless game of manipulation. She reveals how a young, vibrant spirit can be broken until merely a fragment of life hangs on. Yet despite a lifetime of isolation and abuse, Margaux Fragoso has become the epitome of strength. By courageously revealing her painful and shocking past, she has provided us with education and stopped her own family’s painful cycle of sexual abuse.