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4.5 50
by Mal Peet

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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


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.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Elizabeth Young
Fifteen-year-old Tamar is on a quest to understand her identity and discover her heritage. An understanding of self is something that has eluded her since her father left five years ago and her grandfather, who raised her, has just committed suicide. The novel weaves the events of 1944 England and Holland during World War II with Tamar's life in modern London (1975-2005). Unfortunately, this format does not make for easy reading, and many readers will abandon the story early. Peet presents gruesome ambushes and attacks in great, gory detail; her various descriptions of insanity are similarly vivid. Though this is recommended for readers ages 14 and up, this book may be only enjoyed (if such a word can be used in relation to this work) by those who have direct connections with World War II, as that seems to be Peet's emphasis. It is difficult to focus on the characters when various monikers are assigned to the each one at various stages; it is even more difficult to handle the blending of another generation into this complex story. Perhaps this would have fared better if the parallel stories were presented separately. They certainly would appeal to diverse audiences and just might be enjoyed by more. Reviewer: Elizabeth Young
KLIATT - Claire Rosser
To quote the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, January 2007: This lengthy novel tells how the horrors of WW II terrorism (aka resistance fighting) affect three generations in one family. It reads like a thriller, with the action of wartime (winter, 1945) interspersed with mysteries of identity in 1995. The YA component is that the 15-year-old granddaughter, Tamar, who adores her grandfather, finds out when he commits suicide that his secrets from 1945 ruined the life of his son, Tamar's father. Uncovering the truth changes everything about her family. The resistance action takes place in Holland during the last winter of the war. Two young Dutchmen, trained and "run" by the British, are holed up in a remote area where they both fall in love with Marijke, the young woman at the farm where they are hiding. The spy code-named Tamar (after a river in Cornwall) is having an affair with Marijke and the other young man, code-named Dart, is obsessively jealous. Peet describes their clandestine lives so well that we understand how sleep and food deprivation, constant fear, and suffering and violence make them emotionally unbalanced, to say the least. The granddaughter Tamar is given a package after the death of her grandfather, which leads her on a quest to discover the truth about what happened in Holland so long ago. This is a demanding, carefully written story, with dreadful details of betrayal and violence. (Winner of the 2006 Carnegie Medal and an ALA Best Book for YAs.) Reviewer: Claire Rosser
School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up

Mal Peet's Carnegie Medal-winning novel (Candlewick, 2007) deftly weaves suspense and painful emotion with story strands set in World War II Holland and late 20th century England. When her grandfather commits suicide, 15-year-old Tamar is left an odd collection of objects that lead her to Devon, site of her namesake river. Accompanied by a her cousin, and the two young people uncover the dark family secret that began in the Dutch countryside during the waning days of the Nazi occupation. That thread of the story involves two Dutch Resistance fighters in love with the same woman. Brutal reprisals by German troops increase the friction among Resistance factions and add to conflicts between the two espionage agents, once best friends. The story not only follows a determined teen through her anger, loss, and betrayal, but it also echoes those themes in the ravaged landscape of wartime Holland. Narrators Anton Lesser and Anna Maxwell Martin keep the tension palpable and convey the tale's complex human dilemmas. Peet describes the intensity of love and the struggle to survive physical and mental hardships with compelling imagery. Students can easily draw parallels between this conflict and contemporary issues and identify with the title character's search for self. A gripping, well-crafted audiobook for high school and public library collections.-Barbara Wysocki, Cora J. Belden Library, Rocky Hill, CT

Product Details

Candlewick Press
Publication date:
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Barnes & Noble
Sales rank:
780L (what's this?)
File size:
777 KB
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Tamar had not been able to drift clear of the surface of the water that rushed up to meet him. He was already fumbling with the harness release when he felt the cold shock of contact; he was terrified the chute would drag him under. He was thigh deep before he felt something more or less solid – a mass of sludge and submerged branches – beneath his feet. With a moan of relief he got free of the chute and saw it settle onto the black water like a gigantic water lily. Then he began to struggle towards the denser shadow of the bank. His flailing right arm struck something hard, and he grabbed at it. It shifted in the water. A boat? Yes.

He was pulling himself along it, looking for where it must be moored to the bank, when he heard someone speak.

"Welcome to Holland, Tamar."

He looked up. On the bank, distinct against the lesser darkness of the sky, was the unmistakable silhouette of a German soldier. The long field-service coat, the jackboots. Cold moonlight glinted from the steel helmet and the snout of a submachine gun.

Even before fear took hold, Tamar was filled with a great and bitterdisappointment, a sense of ridiculous failure. He stood away from the boat, feeling broken, and raised his arms above his head.


TAMAR by Mal Peet. Copyright © 2007 by Mal Peet. Published by Candlewick Press, Inc., Cambridge, MA.

Meet the Author

Mal Peet (1947–2015) is the acclaimed author of the Carnegie Medal–winning novel Tamar as well as the  Boston Globe–Horn Book Honor Book Life: An Exploded Diagram and three Paul Faustino novels: Keeper, The Penalty, andExposure, a winner of the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize. He is also the co-author of Cloud Tea Monkeys, Mysterious Traveler, and Night Sky Dragons, all of which he wrote with his wife, Elspeth Graham.

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Tamar 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 50 reviews.
Yosuico More than 1 year ago
Tamar is a thrilling novel all the way to the end. I think one of the main themes is the humanity of war. I think the author¿s purpose was to show how war actually affects people: what decision¿s you make, the thoughts you have, the mental and emotional effect on those involved. The year is 1945. World War II is coming to a close. Tamar is a Dutch spy fighting for the British to free his homeland, Holland. He is accompanied by another Dutch soldier, Dart. They are stationed in a small isolated farm, to lower their visibility from the Germans. Tamar falls in love with a young woman living on the farm, Marijke. Unfortunately, Dart is also in love with her, and becomes jealous when Tamar and Marijke begin to have a relationship. Meanwhile, in 1995, a young woman by the name of Tamar is living in England. Her grandfather recently committed suicide and leaves behind a box filled with unusual contents. She begins to discover the meaning of the items left behind, and with it discovers the truth behind her grandfather. "We tell ourselves we're different from them. But this morning, I watched them while they murdered a hundred and sixteen people. So I wanted to kill them. The sickness in those men, those Germans? It's in me, too." That is the quote behind which my thesis is based. I find that it explains how war plays games with your head and makes you think differently. I think this book achieves its goals and the author¿s purpose. It does show how the war affected the characters in this story. Some of the damage was permanent, some wasn¿t. I think the author does in fact show how war actually affects your head: what decision¿s you make, the thoughts you have, the mental and emotional effect on those involved. War is a tough battle, and it affects everyone. Tamar is a very good novel, and I would recommend it to those old enough to understand it. It is very deep and thrilling, and the ending will surprise you.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My dad and I were shopping and he saw this book on a shelf. I was reluctant to get this book, but I bought it anyway. I really loved this book from beginning to the very end. I would very much reccommend this book to anyone: it has everything that a good story needs, romance a thrilling plot and interesting twists.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was wonderfully written. Mal Peet weaves an intricate plot around the lives of two men during the war that has consquences on his grandaugter 50 years later. It grabs your attention right away and doesn't let it go until the last word. At first I thought this novel may turn out to be boring but by the end I felt as though i was part of the experience they were having. I started reading it as an English Assignment but finished it as a book I sincerely enjoyed reading.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was wonderfully written. The story¿s plot is so intricate and descriptive you feel as if you are actually going through the experience and emotions with the characters. I started it as reading for an English assignment but finished it as a book I sincerely enjoyed reading.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Tamar is one of the best works of storytelling I have read this year, maybe in my entire life. Its an intricate blend of relationships, war, betrayal, and modern life. I was extremely suprised at how good a book it was, and it met my high expectations. The ending was very shocking, and somehow ruined it for me :0 but I still love it anyways. This story will definitely stick with me!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wow, this book was very entertaining that I read it all in one day. This story about Tamar is just... insiteful and very interesting. It really brings the past forward into a story you don't quite expect and one that surprises you at the end. You should read this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was wandering the shelves of the books store, and this caught my eye. I read a few pages, and I wasn¿t entirely sure. It seemed too expensive and I was afraid that it would ramble too much. But, I bought it anyway. I finished the book that night and when I reached the page, and if you have read the book you might know which one I was talking about, I literally screamed. The author has woven a net of perfection inside me and made me fall in love with all the characters of the book. It was amazing and so inspiring that I have no words that can describe my feeling for it. It is a wonderfully written story that deserves to be read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. It really makes you think and is just amazing!! I read it in a day.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I started reading Tamar in a Barnes and Nobles bookstore and I couldn't put it down I spent the next 4 hours sitting on the floor reading it.The story was written in such detail that you feel as if you experience every emotion the characters go through. The story is divided into two time periods, 1945 and 1995. Perhaps the Tamar of 1995, wasn't given enough character development, but I didn't really connect with her character. However, the story was still wonderful. When I was reading, it was as if I were watching the scenes unfold before my eyes. Even after I finished reading it, I kept on thinking about the story all day. I can see this book becoming an award winning movie. Tamar will become a favourite with anyone who reads it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I first picked up this book as it was on the recommended shelf at my local library, and me being the historical fiction lover that I am, I took it home to read. At first, it took me a bit to understand the plot and what was happening, I had to reread the first part of the story, the chapters before it jumps to the female lead. The book as a whole was a bit hard to follow plotwise, but it does flow better later in the book. The main part that bugged me is that the "main" character, the soldier's granddaughter Tamar, was said to be a major character in the book. She was, but I think that that whole plotline could have been left out of the book if it needed to be. However, it does add a nice mystery element and a neat side story, and ties up the other storyline's loose ends in a neat little package. My favorite thing about this book, however, is the fact that it was suprising. It suprised me in the intricacy of the plot, the excellent portrayal of the characters, and the fact that war indeed is not always a happy ending. Peet is very good at describing the environment, I was filled with fear every time the Nazis were close, and filled with horror when de Vries led hundreds of people to their deaths. I thought many times throughout the book, "oh, this is how it will end for sure," or "this book is so predictable". I almost put the book down because the first hunded or so pages, I thought I had the mystery solved and didn't need to read any farther. However, I kept going, and in a surprising turn of events the ending slapped me across the face. When I went back and reread it it was as clear as day what the character would do, although you don't immediately understand when first reading through. That's the part I love, without spoiling too much, that the soldier's stories don't end happily. Although the epilogue of the book left it on an optimistic note. In all, this was an enjoyable read and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a good sit-down, detail-oriented book. It does have some steamy parts and some language, so I would save this for late middle to high schoolers. If the middle of the book seems to drag, keep going, and you won't be disappointed!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book has really stuck with me. It's been years since I read it but usually I have to read a book more than once to remember the equivalent of what I read in this book. Excellently written. Well developed characters. Great imagery. 5/5 stars. Highly recommended. If you liked The Book Thief or any other WWII piece of literature/movies you'll probably love this book too!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A well written book of historical nature about the underground in WWII. I liked the format that the writer used in telling the story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book so much, its very well written
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
At first I didn't want to read it because it was historical fiction and I really dont like to read historical fiction, but the cover looked amazing so I read it and loved it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
MissPrint More than 1 year ago
I don't usually put much stock in subtitles to books. However, with this book, I have to admit that the subtitle really tells you everything you need to know. Tamar: A Novel of Espionage, Passion, and Betrayal really is just that. In other words, it's an exciting and suspenseful read with quite a few mysterious twists thrown in along the way (to be fair I should point out that I had guessed one of the major twists about thirty pages in, but that only made me want to read faster to see if I was right and, perhaps, made the ending slightly less shocking--you'll have to see for yourself though). Tamar is actually two stories. What I am going to call the main story (because it takes up more of the novel) occurs between 1944 and 1945 first in England and later (and mostly) in Holland. World War II is well under way, but as time passes, it becomes clear that the Nazis will not win. The main question, then, becomes whether the Germans will have the chance to leave their occupied countries behind intact or in a state of burning rubble. In order to prevent the latter, England's Special Operations Executive (SOE)--a covert military group--have trained and dispatched operatives to go undercover in the Netherlands and undermine the German authority. These operatives, as far as the government are concerned, have no names being known only by an alias. The two SOE operatives at the center of Tamar are named for rivers in England: Tamar and Dart. Working from in Holland, Tamar's job is to consolidate the resistance movement into a more coherent group. Dart accompanies Tamar as his wireless operator. Many other memorable, and important, characters make appearances here. The last of the main characters are rounded out with Marijke, a young woman who lives with her grandmother on the farm Tamar will call his home while undercover. The other, smaller, part of the story is set in England. The year is 1995 and the narrator is a fifteen-year-old girl named Tamar--the granddaughter of one of the resistance fighters. Tamar's life seems to be falling into chaos. Her father has disappeared, her grandmother Marijke is ill, and her grandfather William Hyde is dead. Inheriting a mysterious box from her grandfather inspires Tamar to follow his clues to understand his death and, although she doesn't know it yet, to uncover one of her family's oldest secrets as well. I really liked this book. The story is a real page turner but at the same time Peet also offers a very clear examination of the human condition. World War II is a huge event for, basically, everyone. But as time passes, the immediacy of the War also seems to diminish. One of the great things about Peet's writing is how eloquently he conveys the fear these men and women felt during the War--even as they chose to put their lives at risk to fight for what they thought was right. Nothing is black and white in this novel, even as characters make mistakes and stumble down their roads paved with good intentions, Peets offers them a chance for redemption and, maybe more importantly, forgiveness. That is why, I think, the Carnegie Medal committee gave Tamar its award and, write that the book "ultimately offers a sense of optimism." By comparison, the 1995 sections fall flat. These parts of the novel, serve as a nice counterpoint to the novel, but don't really feel vital until the end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Aggie2010 More than 1 year ago
"Tamar" was such a GREAT book! I couldn't stop reading it. I loved that it gave you an inside look into the operations of resistance groups during WWII and the perils of working underground. It was very complicated and dangerous work. I also appreciated that it gave a glimpse into what it was like for ordinary citizens living under occupation (the hunger, the fear, curfew, check points, reprisals, etc.). More than anything I loved the story that developed between Tamar, Dart and Marijke. It is a heartbreaking story of love, resistance, danger, betrayal and secrets. As the story unraveled I found myself gasping for air. By the end of the novel I was floored by the revelations that had been wrapped in mystery earlier in the novel. I highly, highly recommend this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Eryn Adams More than 1 year ago
So good! Suspenseful and shocking!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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SachinM More than 1 year ago
Tamar by Mal Peet depicts the character of the same name, who, following the death of her World War II Dutch resistance grandfather, is bequeathed a box fill with secrets that will alter her life forever; as she cracks the codes and solves the clues, more secrets of lust, tragedy and passion are revealed that in conjunction with Peet's excellent writing and usage of sensory details, creates a complex, fulfilling story that will evoke confusion, grief and exhilaration out of the reader. Tamar is a great read for history buffs, mystery novel enthusiasts, and romantics alike, and is easy to follow along with. In the book, the plot switches back and forth between the 1970's-1990's and 1940's World War II era. However, transitions are not strenuous as Peet does an outstanding job making the shifts in time periods cohesive by making sections of the story finite, allowing for one to finish with one part of the book and move to the next. A dislike I had was that although the dialogue was key in establishing subtle pieces of characterization and revealing pieces of the characters' personalities, it sometimes lost momentum and ran a little dry, and one would be left waiting for the dialogue to end so the plot can continue. In the story Tamar, a 'bright eyed and smart' 15 year old British-Dutch girl is a bit brittle due to the deaths of her grandfather and father but has an acute eye for detail, begins to hold her past dear to herself as she investigates the mystery. She is motivated by intrigue, and she herself is confused by the mysteries of the box, wondering if her journey is truly simply for 'sentimental reasons'. Tamar is an admirable character however, navigating through obstacles such as the loss of loved ones through her own perseverance, and uses her adventure as a way of maturing into adulthood. A theme found in the story, especially in the World War II sequences, is the questioning of one self's humanity, such as the dialogue plays out: "We tell ourselves we're different from them.But this morning, I watched them while they murdered a hundred and sixteen people. So I wanted to kill them. The sickness in those men, those Germans? It's in me, too." The character is questioning between what he perceives as right and what the reality possibly may be. He is a soldier, but becomes concerned about what he is actually fighting for. Since he is questioning his own morality, it is a nod towards the primal state of man, and the line between good and evil that becomes distorted by violence - a sentiment that still exists today when we witness violence unfold. Tamar is a Best Seller and Carnegie Medal Winner because it uses strong storytelling technique, timeless global themes, and at way of showing a young adult's transition into adulthood that is fluid. It contains subject matter that we - regardless of age- can all learn from.