Tamar by Mal Peet
Review by Lauren
bought my copy, but all opinions are still my own
Official Summary: 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 before. His story is one of passionate love, jealousy, and tragedy set against the daily fear and casual horror of the Second World War -- and unraveling it is about to transform Tamar's life forever.
Review: I've never heard of this author before, but after reading Tamar, I definitely think I need to give some of his other novels a chance. I don't read a lot of historical fiction, but when I do, I find myself fascinated by stories that take place during WWII. For those of you that have read Code Name Verity, I think you might enjoy Tamar as well. While Tamar focuses mostly on guys during WWII, there are girls that take part in the resistance, risking their safety and very lives.
At first, the book might confuse you...so let me just say that it starts with the parents of girl-Tamar being asked to give their daughter that name. Then, we go back to WWII and meet boy-Tamar, though that is his "code" name and not his real one. His partner is a man called Dart and they are both about to enter Holland to help the resistance for the British. Eventually, the story switches to the future again and we get an older girl-Tamar telling her story. Once you get to this point, things will continue to go back and forth between WWII and girl-Tamar going on a journey to understand her grandfather. Eventually, the two stories intertwine and truths are revealed to the characters and us, as readers.
When reading Tamar, the story starts out a bit slow, allowing readers to figure out the story, the time periods, and the characters. I was interested but a little unsure what I would think. As I kept going, I started to really invest in the story, desperate to know the answers to the questions girl-Tamar seeks. I did figure some things out as I read, but it didn't ruin the story as it's more than just a mystery that needs to be solved. There is a lot of emotion and heart within these pages. There are characters that I loved, and ones that I thought were downright despicable. I'm not sure you can call any of them "evil" per se. Some are working on emotions, some on false truths, while others act on beliefs that may or may not be wrong. Even the people on the "right" side of things are not always leading the best lives.
I would definitely recommend Tamar. It might seem a bit long, but I felt that things moved quickly once I got acclimated to the story. This would make a great discussion book for classes and book clubs.