The Tigers in the Tower – Julia Golding

One of the first things that you notice about Julia Golding’s newly published book is the stunning female character in the front and centre of the cover. She looks strong, determined, and most of all authentic. Her authenticity to her culture is evident through her clothing, and confidence around exotic animals. As you read further and further into the book you realise that it is her unwavering pride in her upbringing that stays with her throughout her journey, and something she refuses to disinherit.

Sahira arrives in Georgian London onboard a ship that set sail from India, accompanying her parents to deliver two tigers that her father has sold to someone in England. Sadly, her parents die during the journey and so Sahira arrives as an orphan, in a country entirely foreign to her, and with just the two tigers for company. Her hopes of remaining with the tigers as they settle into their new home are thwarted by the man who purchased the two big cats, and Sahira consequently finds herself delivered to an orphanage.

Unfortunately the orphanage is not the warm and caring sort, and it is every person for themselves – something Sahira learns early on as she faces bullies, threats, discrimination and abuse. It seems someone is also trying to steal from her. Down on her luck and unlikely to see her beloved tigers again, Sahira looks to make some friends and find a way to endure those around her, and holds on to the hope that her grandparents will come and collect her, accepting her for who she is, and introducing her into the family – what she has never experienced is prejudice and discrimination because of her heritage and skin colour, but that is about to change, and from those she believed in the most.

This is the most incredible read, and is beautifully written to tell two parallel stories of survival, entwined by the voyage that brought them to England. While Sahira is learning to survive as an orphan in an entirely new country, there is also the story of the two tigers who enter captivity for the first time, and the similarities between the two scenarios are both poetic and heartbreaking at the best of times. Sahira has other ideas though, and they involve her being involved in the long term upkeep and care of her tigers Sita and Rama, and ensuring they have a home that they deserve. Captivating from the very beginning, and powerful to the end, you will not want to put down this utterly brilliant read that gives you a taste of when two cultures collide, when there are differences in opinions as well as beliefs, and reminds you that being a hero can ultimately be decided by your actions and choices in life – and staying true to who you really are.

The Tigers in the Tower is published by Lion Hudson and available to purchase from all good booksellers.

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