5 stars · Sizzler · Young Adult

Tin Lily by Joann Swanson

Tin Lily Book Cover Tin Lily
Joann Swanson
Fiction, Young Adult
October 10th 2014


Just because you survive doesn’t mean you’re alive.
One moment fifteen-year-old Lily Berkenshire is sitting in her bedroom, favorite song blaring through her earbuds, history book open on her lap. The next, her alcoholic father is shooting and killing her mother. Then he’s pointing the gun at Lily and pulling the trigger. Click. He’s out of bullets.
For now.
When she moves to Seattle to live with her aunt, Lily retreats into peaceful, dissociative trances to escape the shattered nightmare that is her life. Soon, though, she discovers a beautiful boy who wants to take her out, a therapist who wants to help her heal and new friends who believe she can find wholeness again.
But her father wants something else entirely. He is hunting her and unless Lily confronts and heals the devastation inside her, she’ll forfeit her life to a father determined to end it.
From the first shot to the final, terrifying showdown, Tin Lily is an edge-of-your-seat psychological thriller.

ARIANNA’s Review

“When our last breath goes, we aren’t rich or poor or mean or nice. We’re just people who’ve lived for a little while, some of us in dog food houses with loving moms, some of us in mansions with cruel dads. Maybe when we die we’re back to that starting place where the only thing that matters is what we leave behind.”

Realistic fiction is not my genre of choice, but I’m glad I decided to
give this one a try. I was more than surprised that I enjoyed this read as much as I did. This is the story of Lily, a 15 years old girl who’s life was shuttered in just a moment, a broken girl who doesn’t know how to live anymore, who doesn’t know anymore how to let people in, who thinks she’s damaged beyond repair. It’s a heart breaking story about life, strength, how to let go and move on and learning to appreciate life.

The story starts with Lily who now lives only with her mother after her parents separated. Her father Hank is an alcoholic. He likes to drink more than he loves his wife and daughter, he likes drinking more than his job or his passion, painting. Some events in their life destroyed her father’s spirit. He is more than damaged, his past and the present made him a different man. A man who doesn’t think rationally anymore. One night Hank shows up at their house with a gun, kills Rachel, Lily’s mother and tries to kill Lily too. He runs out of bullets, he promises he will be back and disappears leaving behind a a broken girl. Lily moves to Seattle to live with her aunt, Margie.
Time passes, but Lily can’t forget what her father did. She struggles to accept the new reality. She blames herself for her mother’s dead, living in fear, not for herself, but for her aunt. She feels hallow inside. There’s no room for anything else in her heart.

“When you want to put things behind, you usually have something in front. There is no front for me. No future.”

She starts to see a psychologist who wants to help her. In his building she meets Nick a sweet boy who understands how she feels. When she’s with him she forgets.

“Tin Lily” is more than a realistic fiction read. It’s emotional with many symbols and with a great message – there’s always hope and there’s always choice. What I really liked about this story is that Lily’s voice was real and honest. I really felt I was in a 15 years old girl’s head. It’s a tragic voice, but a voice that I loved nonetheless. I really felt connected with her and not only because she seemed real, but because she is relatable as well. There were times when she seemed very mature for her age – what she says and what she feels. It didn’t bother me because in my opinion tragedy and grief have the power to change completely who you are.

I loved he fact that Lily doesn’t know what she sees (Hank) is real or not. I was a little confused myself, but as the story progresses we find out what’s real.

I really felt for Lily. She’s only 15, but she is forced by circumstances to grow up, to realize that life is so fragile. I felt everything she felt and I was so happy and proud of her in the end, when she found strength to face her demons. Her characterization is very well done and I liked that her healing was done gradually.
There are many flashbacks in Lily’s past. We get to know her better and her mother Rachel as well, how beautiful their relationship was, how they cared for each other, how they helped each other, how powerful their love was.
I loved Nick and the way he was with Lily made me smile. Their connection is there and I adored their sweet romance. Margie was a great side character too. She is loving and caring and she’s ready to do anything to help her niece. I hated Hank, but I found his character well developed, in the present and in the past, in Lily’s memories.

Overall, a fantastic read!

“There’s peace now, but it’s not from the quiet place. It’s from finding out why I needed it in the first place.”