Tiger Eyes has been acclaimed by some critics as Judy Blume's best work. According to Robert Lipsyte in The Nation, "It is her finest book—ambitious, absorbing, smoothly written, emotionally engaging and subtly political. It is also a lesson on how the conventions of a genre can best be put to use."
The novel follows fifteen-year-old Davey Wexler as she learns to cope with and eventually to accept her father's untimely death. Along the way, the reader meets all of the important people in Davey's life and moves with her from New Jersey to New Mexico. The many emotions connected with her father's death—denial, fear, grief, guilt, anger, and, finally, acceptance—are presented clearly and powerfully. In addition, an element of mystery develops as Davey's recollections of her father's death slowly unfold.
This novel does not deal solely with Davey's recovery from her father's death. There is the spice of romance as well, as Davey meets a young man who helps her overcome her fears. But, the relationship between "Tiger Eyes" and "Wolf" remains undeveloped, thus making Tiger Eyes less controversial than some of Blume's other books.
Another mark of a Blume novel is humor. Because Tiger Eyes deals with a tragedy, there is less humor within its pages than, say, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. However, there are numerous funny episodes (often involving Davey's little brother) and passages that make the reader smile in recognition and sympathy. Moreover, the reader will appreciate the irony of Blume's choice of setting, placing this story of Davey's healing after a brutal murder in the midst of the "Atomic City," where bombs are made for the purpose of killing.
This is a book that most young people will enjoy. For one who has lost a parent and needs help in coming to grips with the situation, Tiger Eyes offers a chance of both comfort and growth. Although no final answers are given in this book, the reader is left with the knowledge that Davey has weathered this storm, emerging strengthened and ready to get on with her life.