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Tamar Paperback – Oct 3 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 600 pages
  • Publisher: Walker Books Ltd (Oct. 3 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0744565707
  • ISBN-13: 978-0744565706
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.2 x 3.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 399 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #888,625 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 8 Up—This lengthy Carnegie Medal-winning novel is masterfully crafted, written in cinematic prose, and peopled by well-drawn, multidimensional characters. Intense and riveting, it is a mystery, a tale of passion, and a drama about resistance fighters in the Netherlands during World War II. The story unfolds in parallel narratives, most told by an omniscient narrator describing the resistance struggle, and fewer chapters as a narrative told by 15-year-old Tamar, the granddaughter of one of the resistance fighters. The locale and time shift between Holland in 1944 and '45 and England in 1995. The constant dangers faced by the resistance fighters as well as their determination to succeed in liberating their country from German occupation come vividly to life. Dart, Tamar, and Marijke are the main characters in this part of the book. Their loyalty to one another and the movement is palpable though love and jealousy gradually enter the story and painfully change the dynamics. Other characters jeopardize the safety of the group and intensify the life-threatening hazards they face. Peet deftly handles the developing intrigue that totally focuses readers. After her beloved grandfather commits suicide, modern-day Tamar is determined to undercover the mystery contained in a box of seemingly unrelated objects that he has left for her. Peet keeps the story going back and forth in time, and readers must wait till the end of this intricate book to understand fully what happened to these courageous people. This is an extraordinary, gripping novel.—Renee Steinberg, formerly at Fieldstone Middle School, Montvale, NJ
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* It was her taciturn but beloved grandfather, William Hyde, who gave Tamar her strange name. But in 1995, when she was 15, he committed suicide, leaving her to wonder if she knew him at all. Later, when she opens the box of War II memorabilia that he left her, she's struck by the need to find out what it means, who he really was, and where she fits in. Tension mounts incrementally in an intricate wrapping of wartime drama and secrecy, in which Tamar finds her namesake and herself. Forming the backbone of the novel are intense, sometimes brutal events in a small Dutch town in Nazi-occupied Holland and the relationship between the girl's namesake, a member of the Dutch Resistance; Dart, a code operator assigned to help him; and Marijke, the love of his life. Peet's plot is tightly constructed, and striking, descriptive language, full of metaphor, grounds the story. Most of the characters are adults here, and to some readers, the Dutch history, though deftly woven through the story, will seem remote. But Peet's sturdy, emotionally resonant characterizations and dramatic backdrop will pull readers forward, as will the secret that gradually unravels. Despite foreshadowing, the outcome is still a stunner. Winner of Britain's 2005 Carnegie Medal, this powerful story will grow richer with each reading. Stephanie Zvirin
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By TeensReadToo on Sept. 25 2008
Format: Paperback
In 1944, two spies are sent deep within Nazi-occupied Holland. Their mission - to help those involved with the Dutch resistance movement. Both men are trained to send, receive, and translate coded messages. These messages contain valuable information concerning the movements of the Nazi army. Even though these men face death at every turn, they are committed to stopping the evil that is associated with the Nazi regime.

In 1995, Tamar is dealing with the suicide of her grandfather. He has left Tamar a box full of clues that she cannot decipher. She decides that it is one of his elaborate puzzles; one that Tamar may not be able to solve. After enlisting the help of her cousin, Yoyo, Tamar sets off on a journey to discover why her grandfather left her these treasures, and what they mean to her family.

Mal Peet has created a novel that intertwines the story of a young girl's journey of self-discovery and a young soldier's fight to stay alive. It is a beautifully written novel that contains secrets within secrets. Peet leads the reader on an adventure that is both intriguing and frightening. Readers may be left speechless once the truth unfolds.

A definite must-read for those who love historical fiction.

Reviewed by: LadyJay
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By Pauline on July 7 2008
Format: Hardcover
"Tamar" is a story that weaves between the present and the past. In the present, Tamar is the fifteen year old grand-daughter of a World War Two veteran. When Tamar's grandfather dies he leaves her a box containing clues and coded messages. Tamar sets out on an expedition to find out her grandfather's final message to her.

In the past we read about Tamar's grandfather and his life in the war, the world of resistance fighters. Something goes awry among the resistance fighters and it influences the future, Tamar's future.

I enjoyed reading the past sections about the resistance fighters a lot more than the present sections about Tamar, but both are pivotal to the story. The story is about trickery, passion, treachery and desperation. Once the story is unfolded, it is also about emancipation and forgiveness. "Tamar" definitely makes you ponder about forgiveness.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Had to read this book for a course and it was a little slow at the start then it got really interesting but I absolutely could not stand the awful ending to this book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 56 reviews
77 of 78 people found the following review helpful
The self-interest of survival is stronger than any code of honor May 31 2007
By Bookreporter - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Tamar and Dart are spies who parachute into Nazi-occupied Netherlands during the "Hunger Winter" of 1944. Tamar's mission is to convince Dutch resistance groups to unify under the authority of the British government. Dart is his wireless operator, at a time when a WO's life expectancy in the field is just a few months. Tamar is undercover as a farm laborer sent home from Nazi work camps due to broken health. Dart is disguised as a doctor in residence at a sanatorium. They communicate only with the help of local resistance members, any of whom could be Nazi spies.

Very little information is given about the characters beyond their duties as spies. Both are Dutch, but it is never revealed how they came to be recruited by the British or what their lives were like before they were spies. It is almost as though their choice to become spies has erased all other sense of identity. They have no past and no future beyond their present mission, even as personal feelings begin to color their relationships to one another and the organization they serve.

Approximately 50 years later, a teen girl, also named Tamar, inherits a mysterious box from her grandfather. She and her cousin Yoyo take a trip into the British countryside seeking the origins of the Tamar river and the answer to a family secret that has remained hidden for generations. The two stories dovetail in a compelling novel about the legacy of a world at war, binding people across borders and generations.

World War II happened so long ago that it is beginning to pass from memory into history. The world of TAMAR's spies is so different from our own that it might as well be an imaginary world. The secret hiding places, archaic communications like Morse code, and extreme precautions like cyanide pills add to a sense of a vanished and exotic world. It is also a period that has been fetishized over the years by many fictional portrayals. Instead of making history seem more immediate, the many movies and novels about the period can serve to make it seem less real, more a Hollywood invention than actual events impacting the lives of millions. Nazis have become stock characters, as recognizable in their uniforms with stiff marching and salutes as the villain in swirling cape and twirling mustache was in melodramas long ago. It would be easy to write another novel about the atrocities of the war without adding anything new to the literature.

Mal Peet avoids cliche through his vividly detailed recreation of The Netherlands in the winter of 1944. He writes about a population being starved into submission by their Nazi occupiers, forcing "hunger trippers" to walk miles into the country in search of food. He writes about silken code sheets that can be packed into a tiny capsule and swallowed in case of capture, and about wireless operators on amphetamines trying to stay alert through stifling boredom and constant fear.

Best of all, the author refuses to oversimplify the conflict into good vs. evil. Most of the trouble in the novel relates to the competing agendas between different factions of the resistance, and misunderstandings between individuals who are supposed to be fighting on the same side. Nazis aren't the only enemy. The novel's protagonists also battle against fear, boredom, isolation, starvation, mistrust, substance abuse and nerves stretched to a breaking point.

The level of detail in the book, invoking a specific time and place, as well as the moral complexity required of its characters in a world where the self-interest of survival is stronger than any code of honor, distinguish TAMAR in a sea of novels about World War II. Mal Peet finds the perfect balance between thrilling adventure and serious history without relying on stock characters or sentimentality. TAMAR is not the first novel to be written about spies during WWII, but it is one of the few written for a young adult audience and is one of the best novels on the subject for readers of any age.

--- Reviewed by Sarah A. Wood
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Moving and Suspenseful Feb. 21 2009
By athena gal - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This novel tells the moving and often sad story of two generations of people impacted by the horrors of WWII. I loved the dual storyline and getting to know characters during two different time periods. (Young Tamar is a great narrator during the 1990's--she captures both the innoncence and hopfulness of youth.) The book is complex and simple at the same time, much like human nature. It makes you think about how difficult it is to live in the presence of enemies, both internal and external. The story had interesting detail about Dutch life during the War. Life for the WWII characters is so very hard- I realize I have never faced such difficult circumstances. Don't let this deter you from reading- I found myself comforted by the small joys and happiness that Dart, Tamar, and the Maartens manage to create.

I quickly grew attached to most of the primary characters, especially both Tamars. Dart was more difficult to like, but I appreciated the risky job he had and the toll it took on his personality and reasoning. The plot took a few unexpected turns as I read it, reminding me that first impressions and assumptions aren't always correct. The novel presented a few suprises along the way.

I suggest anyone with interest in history-based fiction read this book. Most of the WWII stories I have read focus on the Jewish experience in Holland. I felt like I learned a great deal about the Resistance and the Winter of Starvation.
25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
Angieville: TAMAR Nov. 1 2008
By Angela Thompson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I was sucked in by the first line:

"In the end, it was her grandfather, William Hyde, who gave the unborn child her name. He was serious about names; he'd had several himself."

One day, out of the blue, William Hyde asks his son to name his daughter Tamar. He explains that when he was a Dutch resistance fighter working for the British during WWII, their code names were taken from rivers in England. His son assumes it was his father's code name and agrees to name her Tamar.

After this brief introduction, the story jumps back in time to follow two young Dutch secret agents, code names Dart and Tamar. The two friends parachute into the occupied Netherlands in the dead of night. Tamar is charged with organizing the fragmented resistance efforts. Dart is his wireless operator. When they arrive, Tamar finds he is based out of the farm where a young woman named Marijke lives. It turns out the two met and fell in love a year ago but never thought they'd see each other again after Tamar was sent back to England. As they rekindle their romance amid the terror and starvation gripping the country, Dart is not so lucky. Based out of an insane asylum, he poses as a doctor, making trip after treacherous trip into town to relay encrypted messages and receive directions from headquarters in England. The events that overtake these two friends combine to create a web of deception and anger that reaches out to cover three generations.

This story is bleak. The focus is on the horrors of war and what they do to the men and women involved, the indelible mark left on their lives long after the guns are silenced and the violence is over. In the WWII chapters, the writing is coolly objective. It is impossible not to sympathize with Dart and Tamar and Marijke, though it is difficult to really feel like you know them. The war obscures everything. However, their story is broken up periodically by excerpts from the future. A future in which William Hyde dies suddenly, leaving a box of strange items to his granddaughter Tamar. Tamar's father disappeared years ago, her grandmother is in a home for the elderly, and her mother knows next to nothing about the family history. With the help of her quirky "cousin" (but not really) Yoyo, Tamar sets out on a journey to the river that shares her name to discover why and what her grandfather left her. These chapters are told in first person and come across a bit warmer than the rest of the tale. They show up more frequently as the novel comes closer to its conclusion and, I admit, I would have liked a few more of these present-day chapters throughout the book. Nevertheless, it is a harrowing and fascinating read. I wanted to understand the characters and their motives. I wanted Tamar to understand. In the end, Mal Peet leaves it up to the reader to determine which of them deserves forgiveness and which of them achieve peace.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Outstanding Novel March 12 2010
By Jill Shure - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
I realized my review is coming years after this wonderful book's release, but I wanted to say how much I enjoyed it. Enough to use it in a book group I conduct. My heart was pounding from the start as I anticipated the men parachuting into Holland during World War II. The love story, the competition between underground factions as well as the competition between the two young men were well handled and riveting.

The details about the horrors the Dutch endured under the Nazi occupation educated me about something I never knew.

I believe Peet's handling of the material is well-suited for both adults and young people.

Well done!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Courtesy of Teens Read Too Sept. 25 2008
By TeensReadToo - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Gold Star Award Winner!

In 1944, two spies are sent deep within Nazi-occupied Holland. Their mission - to help those involved with the Dutch resistance movement. Both men are trained to send, receive, and translate coded messages. These messages contain valuable information concerning the movements of the Nazi army. Even though these men face death at every turn, they are committed to stopping the evil that is associated with the Nazi regime.

In 1995, Tamar is dealing with the suicide of her grandfather. He has left Tamar a box full of clues that she cannot decipher. She decides that it is one of his elaborate puzzles; one that Tamar may not be able to solve. After enlisting the help of her cousin, Yoyo, Tamar sets off on a journey to discover why her grandfather left her these treasures, and what they mean to her family.

Mal Peet has created a novel that intertwines the story of a young girl's journey of self-discovery and a young soldier's fight to stay alive. It is a beautifully written novel that contains secrets within secrets. Peet leads the reader on an adventure that is both intriguing and frightening. Readers may be left speechless once the truth unfolds.

A definite must-read for those who love historical fiction.

Reviewed by: LadyJay


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