Tamar, Mal Peet

TamarIt’s the rare YA book whose plot focuses on those who are no longer teens; once the main character’s in college (with a few exceptions), it’s automatically an adult book. So it seemed odd to me that the book starts with a hundred pages of Dart (this is a code name) and Tamar (also a code name) working with the Dutch resistance in 1945. They must be young men, but they’re not that young, and their concerns are distinctly adult ones. There’s no reason this shouldn’t have been published as a young adult novel.

 Except for the other storyline, the other main character, and that’s Tamar’s namesake, a 15-year-old girl living in England 50 years after these events; after her grandfather’s suicide, she finds a box left to her containing maps, a crossword puzzle, money, an identification booklet, an old picture. As she searches for what these all mean, so do we.

These two plotlines, the YA and the not-YA, sit uneasily beside each other. They seem like they ought to be from two different books. They’re two different good books, mind you, with a lot of powerful moments; and while I hate twists at the end, the one here is quite effective… still, I can’t help but think that it’s not really a young adult book.

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