Culture & Memoir

Tiger Girl

May-Lee Chai (Author)

Cover image for Tiger Girl by May-Lee Chai

Available Formats

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Tiger Girl

by May-Lee Chai

Nightmares of war flood the waking memories of Nea Chhim, a 19-year-old survivor of the Cambodian Killing Fields. In this sequel to the acclaimed Dragon Chica, Nea, a struggling college student, decides she must confront the past.

Without telling Ma, she hops on a cross-country bus in Nebraska to seek out her biological father in Southern California. Nea comes face to face with a man wounded by survivor’s guilt who refuses to acknowledge the family’s secrets. It is up to Nea to find the truth.

Tiger Girl weaves together Cambodian folklore and its painful past with contemporary American life to create an unforgettable novel about love, war, and acceptance.

About the Author

May-lee Chai is the author of five books, including The Girl from Purple Mountain, which was nominated for a National Book Award. She is the recipient of a 2006 NEA Grant in Literature and has an M.A. from Yale in East Asian Studies and a second M.A. in English-Creative Writing from the University of Colorado in Boulder. A former reporter for the Associated Press, she is currently a Chinese translator for PEN American Center.


 “An original storyteller writing a book about the need for a young woman’s love, her cross-country journey that is also an inner journey, and her surviving, with others, a life they weren’t meant to survive. This is their story, and I couldn’t stop reading.” ― Linda Hogan, The Book of Medicines and Indios

“… a masterful storyteller with a poignant and gripping tale to tell. Tiger Girl travels far and wide, but in the end it’s about families-not just the ones we’re born into but also the ones we make for ourselves. Enthralling and moving and fascinating and absolutely wonderful.” — Claire LaZebnik, If You Lived Here, You’d Be Home Now and Families and Other Nonreturnable Gifts

“…captures the melancholy of growing up Khmer and misunderstood in America. Tiger Girl disrupts the silence that exists between Cambodian first generation children and their traumatized refugee parents.” — Laura Tevary Mam, singer/composer, “Pka Proheam Rik Popreay (Morning Flowers Blossoming)”