Tamar by Mal Peet.
Candlewick Press: Cambridge, MA, 2007.
Carnegie Medal Winner

Okay, this was more complex and darker than expected. It had a twist I was not expecting. It is not confirmed until the end, but leaves you hanging with anticipation, wondering about the conclusion.

Two stories are told - one in present England, the other in 1944 Holland. After a young girl's grandfather dies, she receives a box with clues to the past. Her father had disappeared years ago after following clues also. From the 1944 perspective, we know that her grandparents lived in Holland during the Resistance against German control. Tamar is a Dutch-born English spy, continuing an affair with the woman who owns his safe house. The story from the past is thoroughly told, except the very ending. The present story is the girl's relationship with the grandfather and her journey to discover his past through his clues, an attempt to patch up things he regrets.

I love the complexity of the story, the texture of the telling. Excellent work for the author's first novel! Tamar is inspired by true events. Events and atmosphere during the Resistance were a springboard for the rest. I hope to read more from Mal Peet.

related-World War II, spies, past life, relationships, Resistance to German invasion and occupation
RL=YA-adult, mature content

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