Thursday, September 2, 2010

In Case You Missed It - Tamar by Mal Peet

Published: 2007
Publisher: Candlewick Press
# Pages:424
Copy provided by: Bought from Book Closeouts
Summary: Book closeouts

In the "Hunger Winter" of 1944, two Allied spies parachute into Nazi-occupied Holland, sent to support the Dutch resistance movement. Half a century later, fifteen-year-old Tamar inherits a box from her grandfather containing a series of clues and coded messages. Out of the past, another Tamar emerges - a man involved in the terrifying world of resistance fighters. His story is complex, filled with passion, love, jealousy, and tragedy set against the daily fear and casual horror of the Second World War. Unraveling it will transform Tamar's life.

I have long been a fan of novels that have 2 stories running parallel to each other, particularly 2 different time-lines. Tamar is an amazing example of this. The first story is that of 15 yr-old Tamar, who is trying to solve the mystery left by her grandfather when he commits suicide. She and her friend Yoyo travel around Britain trying to puzzle out the clues, and the interaction between these two characters in wonderful.

The 2nd story-line is a harrowing account of 2 spies in war-torn Holland during one of the coldest winters on record. This story is so well written that you are transported into the cold dutch countryside and it feels real. I used to sit with a blanket wrapped around my knees when I read it, because I never felt warm enough. The hardships that the two spies encounter are completely unknown to us and are extremely compelling. There is a love story that runs through this that will break your heart and completely surprise you as you reel from the betrayal between friends.

Another very interesting part of the story are the activities of the Dutch resistance. It's hard to imagine how anyone survived at all. For anyone who is at all interested in World War II and how it affected 'regular' people, you will really enjoy this book and the journey Tamar takes you on. The ending of the book will leave you reeling and you will remember the characters for many weeks afterward.

I'm going to leave you with a quote from the prologue that I think, sets up the mystery quite nicely.

'Marike was pouring gravy onto Sonia's plate. She looked up, puzzled. "Name? What name is this?"
Sonia said, "Tamar. It's perfect. I love it."
Marijke dropped the jug. It fell onto Sonia's plate, snapping a chunk off the rim. Gravy ran across the table and, before anyone could react, spilled onto Sonia's distended belly. ' (p6)

Note: This would make a great ISU novel, but don't let that put you off. It's just one of the best YA war stories I have read.

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