Tamar by Mal Peet
When her grandfather dies, Tamar inherits a box 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 in Nazi-occupied Holland half a century earlier. His story is one of passionate love, jealousy and tragedy set against the daily fear and casual horror of the Second World War. Unravelling it will transform the younger Tamar’s life.
Tamar was recommended to my by many of my colleagues at work who all absolutely loved it and sometimes, even if a book doesn’t quite appeal to you that much, it does pay to listen to those around you! And this time it certainly paid off. Tamar was first published in 2005 and written for the young adult market. I certainly wouldn’t recommend it for anyone under thirteen/fourteen I don’t think. Mal Peet’s writing is very different to most children’s authors today – he is probably one of the few popular modern literary authors for children. His writing is lyrical, fluid and poetic at times – it doesn’t have the fast paced page-turning vibe of say Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games but it definitely grabs you.
At first I found Tamar a little hard-going. Peet has a tendancy to jump from one character to the next and often introduces a whole new bunch of characters that you feel like you’ve had no real introduction to. I often found myself confused and wondering if I had just missed these characters mentioned at other times in the book but after lots of searching, I realised I hadn’t. Once you get used to Peet’s style the plot really does hold your interest. The characters are well developed and though there are some definite ‘bad’ guys in the resistance – you can’t help but sympathise with them in their situation. Some parts are quite horrific and upsetting as well but it is as you would expect from a book about the Second World War!
Here is a short extract:
I keep thinking about the Germans in the firing squad. Killing and then killing again and again, looking the faces…How? How did they do that? I can’t…I can’t even imagine. But, the thing is, if you took one of those men and stripped away the uniform, and you sat him next to me, how different would we be? Would you be able to see murder on his skin? Smell murder on his breath? And not on mine?
It is also woth saying that it is definitely not just about the love between two characters – it is so much more than that. From reading the first few pages I thought maybe it was just going to be another love story set in the time of the War but is amazing how it all sparks so many consequences and repercussions throughout so many peoples lives.
When I had finished the last page and discovered the final and terrible twist of the book, I felt a real mixture of feelings – anger, sad, but also happy and hopeful. I can’t go into too much detail as it would give far too much away. So you will just have to read it to find out! But it really is a book that will stay with me for many years to come.
My rating: ****
Have you read Tamar?
Have you read anything else by Mal Peet?
Could you recommend something similar?