Rated of 5
Not just for kids!
Tamar, by Mal Peet, is historical fiction at its finest.
Tamar is 15 when her grandfather dies, leaving her only a box of mysterious objects. She feels sure her grandfather has deliberately left her a puzzle to be solved. In doing so, she uncovers secrets about her family and her grandfather's past.
The book bounces back and forth between Tamar's quest and her grandfather's experience as a fighter in the Dutch Resistance during WWII, with most of the narrative focusing on the earlier time period. The WWII sections of the book are well-researched and wonderfully written. This is obviously the part of the story the author put his heart into. The modern-day text is well-written as well, but not as entertaining - more like filler than an essential part of the story. It felt rather contrived, as if the author was trying too hard to find some literary device to attract more readers to what is primarily a historical fiction novel.
Still, given the overall high-quality of the book that's a minor quibble. Overall, Tamar was very enjoyable and quite difficult to put down -- a real page-turner.
It's unfortunate that Tamar has been publicized primarily as a young adult book. There's nothing juvenile about the story or the writing. It doesn't surprise me at all that it's one of Bookbrowse's favorite books of 2007. I will unreservedly recommend it to my reading friends.