Sixteen-year-old Tiger Tolliver never wanted to learn how to make friends with the dark. But that’s what happens when her mom dies unexpectedly and her ensuing grief becomes overwhelming.
“If you looked at yourself in a mirror right now, could you see pieces of bone close to the surface?” Tiger wonders. “Is this how it will feel every day from now on?” Tiger may be strong, but she’s genuinely scared of what’s to come.
She initially channels her “Grand Canyon of grief” by wearing the same ugly dress for days on end—the same dress that Tiger and her mom argued about. During that argument, they exchanged their last words.
In these early days of grieving, Tiger feels like she is surrounded by the dark. All she feels is fear, sadness and uncertainty as she takes on the responsibilities of organizing her mother’s funeral and end-of-life documents. She never knew her father, and she doesn’t have any extended family that she knows of, so she becomes a ward of the state of Arizona, and she’s soon shuttled from foster home to foster home.
When a previously unknown half-sister is discovered, Tiger becomes her charge, and together they reach out to their incarcerated father and try to navigate an uncertain (but hopefully forward-looking) future as a family. Secondary characters feed the narrative and provide balance to Tiger in her journey, which she measures in minutes since her mother’s death.
Bestselling author Kathleen Glasgow’s second novel, How to Make Friends With the Dark, is an honest and extremely harrowing read. As young readers take this journey with Tiger, they will learn that grief takes all forms and that life, somehow, does go on—even amid the surrounding dark.