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Archive for the ‘Tamar’ Category

Times were tough in 1907 England and Beck’s mother did what she needed to survive. One encounter with a passing sailor resulted in Beck’s birth. He never knew his father. One month before his eleventh birthday, “…his grandparents and his mother and his daft kindly uncle all died in the flu epidemic. Anne [his mother] was the last to go.” Beck was taken to the Catholic orphanage, “…run by the methodically cruel Sisters of Mercy.” Being of mixed race, Beck was victimized both by the Sisters as well as other orphans. One March morning in 1922 he was transferred to the Christian Brotherhood Home for Boys. However, his tenure was short lived when he spurned the advances of one of the priests. He was unceremoniously put on a vessel bound for Canada to work on a farm, an activity totally foreign to him. His sponsors were cruel and bigoted and at the first opportunity, Beck escaped to wander through Canada trying to survive.

Beck, started by Mal Peet and completed by Meg Rosoff after his death, is a marvelous tale of a boy beaten down at every turn, whose self-image is destroyed by his ‘protectors’, trying to find his way in the world. It is an adventure story as well as a love story, although love is a foreign concept to him. Both Mal Peet and Meg Rosoff both are excellent writers as you can see by the quotes I included in this review. Readers will feel Beck’s torture, both physical and emotional. They will experience his physical hardships but will also rejoice when he discovers what true love is. Beck will be enjoyed by fans of Mal Peet, historical fiction and adventure.

Tamar and Life: An Exploded Diagram are the only Mal Peet books I’ve read, both of which I enjoyed. They are vastly different books from each other as well as from Beck. The publisher’s description of Tamar is: “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”. It, too, is full of adventure, has a romantic component, and is extremely well written. It is one of my favorite books.

My suggestion is: read any Mal Peet books you can get your hands on.

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Kirkus recently had an article entitled “How to Read Young Adult Novels and Still Hang Out with Adults” (the link is shown below) which, of course, prompted me to make my own list, because YA books are my passion and there are so many that are ‘suitable’ for adult readers. My only criteria for my short and not all inclusive list are (i) that the books are a few years old so that they might have slipped our minds, (ii) they aren’t the well known books, such as The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (which is a great book, by the way) which has been used in adult book discussion groups and (iii) they are well written.

https://www.kirkusreviews.com/lists/how-read-young-adult-novel-still-hang-out-adults/

So, here’s the Goldberg List (I’ve tried to satisfy varying tastes):

DisreputableHistoryDisreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart: For those looking for cerebral stimulation, follow Frankie Landau-Banks, as she tries to infiltrate the school’s decades old secret all-male society, the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds, a society her father belonged to, back in the day.

EonDragoneyeRebornEon: Dragoneye Reborn (and its sequel Eona: The Last Dragoneye) by Alison Goodman: A flawless combination of Asian astrology, mythology, action and fantasy, these books are perfect for science fiction/fantasy fans and those readers who just want to get drawn into a magic world.

FreakShowFreak Show by James St. James:  Follow Billy Bloom, a teenage drag queen as he makes his way through his new conservative high school, Dwight D. Eisenhower Academy, and forges a relationship with the quarterback of the football team, in this hilariously funny as well as serious comedy/romance.

MarceloInTheRealWorldMarcelo in the Real World by Francisco Stork: A realistic view of a high functioning Asperger’s teenager and his father’s push to have him acclimate to the ‘real world’. Absorbing and well written.

NothingButGhostsNothing But Ghosts by Beth Kephart: Ms. Kephart is known for agonizing over every word, making some of her books have an ethereal aura to them. Nothing But Ghosts is a literary treat. As described in Kirkus, “A long-buried mystery weaves its way through this delicately layered portrait of a grief-stricken daughter and father that meditates on the nature of loss. A coming of age story with a mystery.”

RevolutionRevolution by Jennifer Donnelly: Historical fiction (also A Northern Light by Ms. Donnelly) combined with some time travel transports Andi Alpers from her 21st century Brooklyn home to the middle of the French Revolution. Wonderfully written and totally engrossing.

TamarTamar by Mal Peet: A story of passion, love and resistance fighters during World War II, this absorbing story rotates between two Tamars, one current day Tamar following clues to find out about her 1940s namesake.

WintergirlsWintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson: A haunting look at teenagers and eating disorders.

I could go on, but I won’t. I truly hope you’ll give these books a try.

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