Teens’ Top Ten Nominee for 2008: Tamar by Mal Peet

Tamar is a river in England, Tamar is the code name of a spy dropped into Nazi-occupied Holland during the end of World War II and Tamar is the name of a girl growing up in present-day London trying to solve the mystery of her past.

This story shifts between Holland during the mid-1940s and modern day London. A spy and his radio-operator (code name Dart) are parachuted into occupied Holland to organize the Dutch resistance efforts against the Nazis. He is quartered with a Dutch woman, Marijke, who also happens to be his lover. While they work to feed intelligence back to England and survive the “Hunger Winter” of 1944, Dart – unaware of the relationship between Marijke and Tamar, begins to fall in love with her as well. As with most love triangles – someone always gets hurt and betrayed.

Meanwhile, in present day, Tamar is a 15-year old girl whose father has deserted her and the grandfather she depended on has recently committed suicide. Determined to discover why he felt the need to end his life and armed with the box of clues he has left behind, she begins a quest to discover the truth of her past. Along the way she grows increasingly attached to a distant Dutch cousin that agrees to accompany her on her quest.

The characters are extremely well-developed and the time-shifting keeps the book moving along at a fast, but enjoyable pace. The other absorbing part of this book – the thing that sets it apart from most historical fiction – is seeing how the past can affect your life today.

Tamar is a nominee for the 2008 Teens’ Top Ten. To read more about the Teens’ Top Ten program, click here. To request this book from the library, click here. And don’t forget to place your vote during Teen Read Week, October 12-18, 2008.

Review by Kathryn Gundlach at West Regional Library

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One Response to Teens’ Top Ten Nominee for 2008: Tamar by Mal Peet

  1. katrinaen says:

    I loved this book — I was riveted from beginning to end (even if I did kind of figure out what really happened about 2/3 of the way in!). I’m always especially excited to read historical fiction based on events that I know little about. It makes me want to pursue the real story of events (in this case the Hunger Winter), and I always feel smarter afterward!

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