Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What We're Reading: Teen Crossovers

Teen librarians often talk about “crossover” novels, which are books written for adults that will also be appealing to teens. Maybe the book has a teen protagonist or a coming-of-age plot, or deals with subject matter particularly interesting to teens, or is a contemporary treatment of a classic that teens have to read for school. But readers don’t often go in the other direction—adults looking in the teen section for a good novel. With the proliferation of good teen literature, however, adults should definitely consider whether some of the books written for teens will likewise appeal to them. If you are a fantasy reader, it is, of course, a given that many teen books will be favorites. But a lot of teen contemporary fiction is too much about high school hazing and dating rituals to serve as satisfying adult fare.

One fairly recent exception to that is a Carnegie Medal winner by an author whose first book for young adults won the Branford Boase Award. Tamar, by Mal Peet, is split in time between present day and 1944. A 15-year-old girl named Tamar inherits a box from her grandfather that contains mysterious clues to his past: He was an undercover operative during World War II in Holland, a spy for the Allied forces who was sent to give support and direction to the Dutch underground resistance movement, and his code name was Tamar (after a river in England). His granddaughter and namesake tries in frustration to unravel the clues to his scanty, undisclosed past, which is told in flashback in suspenseful detail. It’s a compelling story about a little-known aspect of the Nazi resistance movement, but it’s also about love, rivalry, betrayal and tragedy, with a life-changing twist for the present-day Tamar at the end of the story. Check it out!

1 comment:

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