Friday, July 20, 2007
A Girl. A River. A Code Name.
There is no end to quality WWII fiction. Even for teens. Of Mal Peet's Tamar, I knew nothing when I first saw it gleaming on the new book shelf. "A novel of espionage, passion, and betrayal." Well, that sounds good. And it's winner of the Carnegie Medal? That's, like, the Newbery for England. Hmm. Those parachuting guys are intriguing. And look! A windmill! Didn't the Dutch have a healthy resistance? Oh, I do like a good resistance tale. Far better than those depressing concentration camp ones. I bet there will be a chase scene! But what's a Tamar?
A Girl. A River. A Code Name. Tamar is many things, but the details of what happened in the Dutch Resistance near the end of World War II for two undercover Allied operatives has remained a mystery for 50 years, but the repercussions still echo, and one 15-year-old girl's life will forever be altered because of them.
It's a dense book; not one you're going to rush through. Peet has measured and deliberate pacing. It's masterful, really; the tension increases at imperceptible rates until you find yourself unexpectedly glued to the page, completely engrossed. The psychology of the situation is just as important as the plot that slowly unwinds. People unravel under the stress. Stakes maintain an impossible height. And exactly how will betrayal enter in? And what's so secret it causes a suicide 50 years later?
But what with that Carnegie Medal, you don't really need me to say more, now, do you? But drat, now that I've looked at this year's short list... I wasn't in love with the winner (Rosoff's Just In Case), but now I really do need to read A Swift Pure Cry and Sedgwick's My Swordhand is Singing looks GREAT. Not that the US would let such a great cover make it across the pond. Aw, jeeze. That's not even out in the US. I guess I could just go read others of his that I've ignored...rambling now. sorry. Tamar = good. I wouldn't hesitate to give it to adults, either.