Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Tamar” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.91  ·  Rating details ·  5,036 ratings  ·  672 reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, 432 pages
Published January 23rd 2007 by Candlewick Press (first published October 3rd 2005)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Tamar, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Leah Rose Kessler I honestly don't know why this is classified as YA rather than adult, maybe because a teenager is involved in part of the book? Most of the book,…moreI honestly don't know why this is classified as YA rather than adult, maybe because a teenager is involved in part of the book? Most of the book, however, deals with a different timeline that follows only adults. I kind of wonder if it is being marketed as YA because that is what sells right now. I think it is too old for average ten year olds (and I say that as a fourth grade teacher).(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.91  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,036 ratings  ·  672 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Aly Locatelli
Today, I found out that Mal Peet passed away.
I am absolutely gutted that such a kind, generous soul was taken away far too soon. I think a reread of Tamar is due.

May you rest in peace. You will be greatly missed.

I read this book back in '07/08, because I (luckily) lived next door to Mal Peet and he gave me a copy a couple of days after publishing and I absolutely loved it.

It is a beautiful story of love, betrayal and life of two soldiers during WWII.

I'd give it a shot if I were you.
Aug 01, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Older teens and adults
I took me a while to get into this book. It is not my usual choice of genre, but I am glad I stuck with it. This story takes place in 2 time periods and centers around 2 characters who share a name. World War II Tamar is a British soldier stationed in The Nazi-occupied Netherlands. Present day Tamar, named for her grandfather, is facing several family crises. The story is well crafted and has a twist at the end (which you may or may not see coming). The wartime section of the story really hit me ...more
Dec 17, 2008 rated it did not like it
I was quite disappointed in this novel. It is advertised as the story of a young girl (Tamar) discovering secrets in her family having to do with espionage and WWII. The story isn't from the girl's point of view until page 99. Before that and comprising most of the book is a third person narrative concerning two men in the Dutch resistance during 1944. The intrigue involving the resistance is not a new story or handled in unique way. It's a basic love triangle with WWII as the backdrop and quite ...more
Sarah Cosey
Jun 13, 2014 rated it it was ok
This book started much stronger than it finished. It had great promise of mystery and intriguing to come. However, if you are at all an astute reader, you catch the plot twist rather early on. The mystery box of items that Tamar's grandfather leaves her with led me to believe that there would be a great unfolding of clues or truths throughout the story. In the end, all you get is a lengthy explanation from Tamar's estranged father which is a wordy and unfulfilling rehash of the story the reader ...more
Aug 03, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Certain teen readers looking for "war" books, adults who enjoy historical fiction
Shelves: teen-lit-read
In such a short amount of space it’s difficult to touch on all the things that make Tamar a WWII historical novel unlike ones many teens (and adults) have ever encountered before. It’s a human drama set into motion by events taking place during the great war, which are often overlooked for bigger, Hollywood-depicted, epic war films. The hunger winter was real, and the Nazis did attempt to starve the Dutch into submission…or trick Dutch men into signing up to work for the Nazis only to become tod ...more
Jan 04, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: great-britain
this is a good book. it's good in the way good books are good. a good, solid goodbook. a readable book. a book you want to go back to night after night. a book that makes you anxious to see how it ends. a book with good sentences good words a good story. a book where people love each other. a book where people hate each other. a book where there is danger and there is respite. a suspenseful book. a book that makes you hungry. a books that makes you happy you are not cold (and you are not, becaus ...more
Yasmin Halliwell Fraser Bower
It took me forever to finish this book for one simple reason: I suspected the big betrayal since the prologue, and I was right. So it was kind of predictable for me. I liked how the betrayal developped because it was well thought and the obsessive passion was believable, BUT the whole time I was reading I was like “Yep, I think I know what this is all about,” so it was a little boring for me. My second critique is that the first half of the book was utterly BORING because the activities of the r ...more
Apr 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: teenbooks
I could not put this one down. It is a book that could easily be enjoyed by adults as well as teens. The writing is superior and this is a tale well told. Completely engrossing and thrilling.

Here's a brief summary from the Fantastic Fiction website:

"A thrilling and moving story about love, betrayal and belonging. When Tamar's grandfather, an intensely private man, falls from a balcony to his death, he leaves behind a box with Tamar's name on it. For a long time Tamar refuses even to think about
I read this at home while I also listened to The Goddess of Small Victories at work. How do I so often manage to do this, overlap my current stories? It's not intentional, not usually. It must be one of my secret superpowers.
At any rate, both books are WWII stories set against contemporary stories. In this case, Tamar is both the code name for a Danish spy-for-England in Denmark during WWII and the granddaughter who was named after him.

This one was fairly different from most of the WWII stories
Dec 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is brilliant. End of.

It’s engaging, a page turner, brilliantly written & a great story. Mal Peet was a great writer & I will be reading his other novels.

I took it from the YA section of the school library I manage. I don’t read YA that much, but I’m so glad I read this one. Winner of The Carnegie Medal & it’s so obvious why. Set during WW2, the story follows two resistance fighters in Holland, whilst also following the coming of age of a young girl who will find out more
Judith Johnson
May 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I agree with the review by The Bookseller printed on the back cover:

‘Beautifully written and absolutely gripping, this is exceptional storytelling’.

I learnt too about some of the wartime experience of the Netherlands.
May 14, 2013 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: No one. Not even WWII lit fans.
TAMAR is a fanfic.

Honestly, it feels as if Mal Peet read Postcards from No Man's Land and liked it so much, he decided to write a fanfic. But then he decided to tweak the storyline a bit to make it a bestseller, and to make the content more politically correct.

Let's observe the similarities:

- The narrative has two alternating stories, one from WWII and one from the 1990's

- The WWII story takes place in Nazi-occupied Holland, where a soldier and a young woman fall in love. Meanwhile, there is an
Jun 15, 2009 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alex (not a dude) Baugh
Tamar is one of those stories that is difficult to talk about without giving too much away and spoiling the twist that comes at the end of the novel. And Tamar is well worth the read just to get to that. It begins in 1979, when William Hyde asks his son Jan if he and his wife would consider using the name Tamar for their expected baby, to which they happily respond in the affirmative. It is this daughter, Tamar, who narratives the story that follows.

The story then switches to 1945, introducing D
Nov 14, 2009 rated it really liked it
This book begins with the naming of a child. A fairly simple event, yet this particular name carries a tremendous amount of meaning. The name is Tamar, it is the name of a river in Holland, it was the code name of a member of the Dutch Resistance during WWII, and it is now the name of a newly born girl. As the book progresses we learn more and more about the name, the person,and the story of Tamar.
Written in alternating sections (not chapters), young Tamar narrates the modern, set in 1995, secti
Nov 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical, literary
I wanted to give TAMAR five stars, it was that good a read. I thought about it off and on for days after finishing. (And normally I forget a book once it's read, except when I buy it again and realize after a couple of chapters I've read it before!)

TAMAR grabbed me right away, when an old man asks his son to name his coming baby Tamar. The son conmplies and the stage is set for the story to unfold. When Tamar is fifteen, she sets out on a journey up the Tamar River in England, going to places he
This is the book for you if you are looking for an unheroic war story. For all their bravery, men and women living through or fighting in a war are seldom the Hollywood-kind of heroes, and many people on the ‘right side of history’ might be frightful assholes. The Second World War is no different.

Peet’s writing is very detailed and precise, which makes for stressful and sometimes shocking scenes but also very happy, beautiful ones. In the midst of the turmoil Tamar and Dart spend languid hours i
Jun 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Sign of an outstanding book? Tears at the end--good tears. Tragic, historically interesting, emotionally gripping, beautifully written. As usual, I read the end early on; when I found out what happened I had to stop for a few days. But I couldn't just walk away. One nugget of doubt: Stepping away from the book, I had a little difficulty convincing myself that Dart would really have "done it," despite all Peet's carefully built clues. But I bought it wholesale while "in the dream" of the novel, s ...more
A story about the Dutch Underground in WWII - I was attracted to it because my late Brother-in-Law was in it as a child. He was shipped to Australia at the end of the war aged 12 as he was an orphan by then. He could speak no English, said English was the hardest language to learn as the rules made no sense. To his dying day he couldn't understand why you had one foot but didn't have two foots!
Jun 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of Code Name Verity, WWII fans
But when I stood there and saw that the end of the journey was as vague and unreachable as the beginning had been, I realized I didn't care. No, more than that: I was relieved. I didn't want an ending, didn't want to get to the full stop of our story.

What a beautiful, horrible story this is. Of course war stories are never easy to hear and traumatic to live through, but this book, this picture of gritty humanity, this depiction of passion and hope and fear tops nearly all that I have read. It
M.E. Hembroff
Sep 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Young Tamar adored her grandparents. When her father disappears she spends a lot of time with them when her mother is at work. When Marijeke, her grandmother, has to go to a nursing home her grandfather becomes despondent.
When her grandfather gives up and commits suicide he leaves Tamar a box that is sealed securely. For a time, Tamar shove's the box into the back of her closet while she studies for exams. When she opens it she is astonished by the mishmash of things in the box which includes ma
Sep 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult-fiction
This was excellently written. I felt like I was reading a real account, watching it happen, rather than reading a story some person made up and got published. That's the main thing that impressed me with the book: a unique story and really great writing.

It was interesting getting into the strategies and plotting and planning that happened with some Allied groups behind the scenes. It was also refreshing to not have any Americans in the story; as an American myself, I'm not sure I've ever read a
Nov 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book was surprisingly good. It chronicles, side by side, the lives of two fearless spies working in the SOE (resistance espionage organization of World War 2) and the teenage granddaughter of one of these spies, Tamar. Tamar is trying to puzzle through a mysterious box her late grandfather has left her, filled with seemingly useless clues and puzzles. While I found the plot of the former a little too long and complicated, the comparison of the two time periods was wonderful. My favorite par ...more
May 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Those who love to read. Seriously.
This book. Where to start.

I'd like to say that this book deserves every single one of those stars. This is a 5 star books. It's told in two perspectives: One perspective is from the main character during World War Two, while the other perspective is about the girl who is discovering how she's connected to the main character during World War Two. Both view points complement each other very well.

I first came across this book when I was finding another book. I was hesitant on picking it up because
Mar 26, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya, historical
This one's been sitting on my TBR shelf for awhile now, waiting for me to work my way around to the right mood. When I finally did, I was sucked in by the first line.

"In the end, it was her grandfather, William Hyde, who gave the unborn child her name. He was serious about names; he'd had several himself."

One day, out of the blue, William Hyde asks his son to name his daughter Tamar. He explains that when he was a Dutch resistance fighter working for the British during WWII, their code names we
Feb 10, 2011 rated it it was ok
Lit. class review:

Winner of the Carnegie Medal and one of YALSA’s top ten books for teens in 2008. On the cover, two parachuters are landing in a field next to a windmill; there are letters printed across the bottom like code. The subtitle promises “a novel of espionage, passion, and betrayal.” Sounds like the tagline for a Matt Damon movie.

Tamar is a 15-year-old girl uncovering secrets about her namesake (a spy) through a box of coded messages. In the box, she discovers a story of two spies se
Maggie Boyd
Nov 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013
I've been working my way through my YA book shelf and have to admit this book was a complete surprise to me, probably because of the subject matter and just how dark the entire book is.

It is 1944 and while the war is winding to a close the Germans are fighting for every inch of occupied Europe they have to give up. To aid the resistance in the Netherlands two operatives - code names Dart and Tamar - are dropped behind enemy lines to set up communication relays and prepare the various resistance
Matilda Regina
Sep 16, 2017 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Clare Cannon
Jun 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Young Adults & Adults
Shelves: adults, young-adult
Even though this book is marketed as a young adult book, I’d recommend it for an 17+ readership. There is little graphic detail, but the themes themselves are serious: jealousy and betrayal leading to murder, a physical relationship before marriage justified by their love for one another, despair and suicide when everything becomes too much. But there is also a message of hope, and forgiveness, which subtly reforms a tragic situation.

The story is well-told through two interwoven narratives, the
Jan 13, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There were times while I was reading this one that I had to remind myself I was reading a Young Adult book - the writing is accessible enough, but the story pretty adult and hard-hitting. The wartime story centres on two British agents dropped into Nazi occupied Holland in 1944 - one, codename Dart, is a radio operator and the other, Tamar, a co-ordinator for the resistance movement. Their story twists and turns very satisfyingly, evading Nazi interest, trying to control the various resistance f ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Entertainer and the Dybbuk
  • Postcards from No Man's Land
  • Remembrance
  • Red Moon at Sharpsburg
  • Here Lies Arthur
  • How to Get Suspended and Influence People
  • The FitzOsbornes in Exile
  • Rowan the Strange (Ivy, #3)
  • The Berlin Boxing Club
  • A True and Faithful Narrative
  • Darkness Over Denmark: The Danish Resistance and the Rescue of the Jews
  • Bone by Bone by Bone
  • The Green Glass Sea (Green Glass, #1)
  • On the Wings of Heroes
  • Escaping into the Night
  • Bog Child
  • New Found Land: Lewis and Clark's Voyage of Discovery
  • Queen of Hearts
See similar books…
Mal Peet grew up in North Norfolk, and studied English and American Studies at the University of Warwick. Later he moved to southwest England and worked at a variety of jobs before turning full-time to writing and illustrating in the early 1990s. With his wife, Elspeth Graham, he had written and illustrated many educational picture books for young children, and his cartoons have appeared in a numb ...more
“You do not win a war by dying for your country. You win a war by making sure that some poor bastard dies for his.” 18 likes
“So? You think people stop talking to you when they are dead?” 8 likes
More quotes…