TAMAR--Erika. (June 10, 1934- August 29, 2022)
"The novelist and children's book author, Erika Tamar, left our world yesterday morning. She was a brilliant mind, an irrepressible spirit, gregarious, and glamorous. She was born in Vienna, Austria. In 1939, after witnessing Kristallnacht and suffering
under Jewish exclusionary laws, her parents decisively gave her and her brother Henry, ages 4 and 9, away to strangers to save their lives. They traveled to the U.S. in June 1939 as two of fifty children personally rescued by Jewish Philadelphians
Gilbert and Eleanor Kraus, a rescue effort featured in the HBO documentary film and book, 50 Children, by Steven Pressman, and supported by documents housed in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. By late August, they were
adopted by a foster family and traveled to Houston, Texas, until her parents, Dr. Julius and Pauline Tamar, arrived in New York in November 1939, at which point they were reunited. Erika tells this story herself in an oral history on video housed at the
USHMM. A lifelong New Yorker, Erika grew up in Washington Heights in Manhattan as the daughter of the neighborhood physician and graduated from the Bronx High School of Science. After majoring in English and Creative Writing at New York University, she
became part of the storied ad agency culture of the late 1950s and early 1960s, working as a pioneering Assistant Director in live daytime network television for the NBC show Search for Tomorrow, produced by the Leo Burnett agency. During these years,
she regularly traveled to the Caribbean, studied Afro-Caribbean dance with Katherine Dunham, and learned to SCUBA dive at a local YMCA, for which she appeared in an early training film. She left the work world in 1964 to raise three children, moving to
Port Washington, NY in 1967, where she was active as a director and actress in community theater. By 1983, she published her first book, Blues for Silk Garcia, eventually publishing more than 20 award-winning young adult novels and children's books,
supporting herself from that point forward, and moving back into Manhattan in 1990 as an independent woman in middle age. In the period she published her first books, she received the first of five separate cancer diagnoses, which she overcame again and
again for the last 40 years of her life, finally being overtaken by a slow-moving form of lung cancer she hoped to outpace until the very end. She lived to be 88 years old, defying all odds, and is survived by five grandchildren who carry her mantle into
the future. To honor her, contribute to well- managed international refugee organizations and foundations supporting cancer research."
"Published by New York Times on Sep. 1, 2022." __________________________________________________
One of her more popular books for preteens is "The Junkyard Dog."
It was nominated for the Maud Hart Lovelace Award.
"Fair Game" was based closely on the Glen Ridge, NJ rape case
And, about 20 years ago or more, I was flipping through the pages of "The Truth About Kim O'Hara" and this page from chapter 13 got stuck in my head (the narrator, Andy, is about 16 and is frustrated with the lack of sex in his relationship with his
girlfriend, whom he doesn't want to cheat on or lose):
"I'd read in National Geographic about this tribe somewhere - I forget
where, South Seas or something. As soon as a boy reaches puberty, they
do a manhood ritual dance and then they give him his own private hut. The
girls who've reached puberty go into his hut and have sex with him. If
he especially likes one girl, he can invite her to move in with him and
the tribe celebrates with a big feather dance. I could do without all that dancing, but the rest makes a lot more sense than the American way. I mean,
you get a full blast of hormones before you're fifteen, but you're a pig if
you pressure your girlfriend and you can't get married until you're twenty- something, so what are you supposed to do in the meantime?"
Clearly, he wasn't considering the disadvantages of such a pubescent tradition - such as high maternal mortality rates - and the boy's having to become a father as a teen and support who knows how many kids. Even in the U.S., practically the only way
such a tradition could work would be if he got a vasectomy.
But the book is quite sensitive, and hardly a sentence is wasted. Even the first scene at the New York homeless shelter is well done.
Blues for Silk Garcia, Crown (New York, NY), 1983.
Good-bye, Glamour Girl, Lippincott (Boston, MA), 1984.
It Happened at Cecilia's, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1989.
("Ninth-grader Andy's quiet life with his father and cat
above their Manhattan restaurant is threatened when his
father falls in love and their restaurant is 'discovered,'
bringing the Mafia in for a cut of the increasing business.")
High Cheekbones, Viking (New York, NY), 1990.
Out of Control, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1991.
("Johnny, lead singer of a popular high school band, has a
history of intense, short-lived involvements with drugs,
drinking and girls. Jessica, the band's guitarist, is his
latest--and most serious--infatuation. While the boy's
lavish attentions are initially thrilling, Jessica soon
feels stifled and restless.")
The Truth about Kim O'Hara, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1992.
("Fifteen-year-old Andy is often baffled by his (Vietnamese)
girlfriend Kim's apparent coolness and rigidity until her
tragic past is suddenly revealed.")
Fair Game, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1993.
("A sordid incident on a humid spring afternoon in the
affluent suburb of Shorehaven leads to accusations that a
group of popular high-school athletes sexually assaulted a
retarded teenage girl. But was it gang rape, or was the girl
a willing participant?"
The Things I Did Last Summer, Harcourt (New York, NY),
("Seventeen-year-old Andy has two things on his mind this
summer: working for the small newspaper in the Hamptons and
losing his virginity. While on a bike ride, he meets beautiful
Susan, an au pair for the wealthy and reclusive Carlyles. Andy
and Susan embark on a love affair, but when Susan abruptly breaks
things off, Andy fears that she is a virtual prisoner in the
Carlyle house. He stages an elaborate rescue, but what he
discovers there is not anything he had ever imagined...")
We Have to Talk, Parachute Press/HarperCollins (New York,
Soccer Mania! (novella) Random House (New York, NY), 1993.
The Junkyard Dog, Knopf (New York, NY), 1995.
Alphabet City Ballet, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1996.
The Trouble with Guys, Parachute Press/Pocket Books (New
York, NY), 1997.
My Ex-Best Friend, Parachute Press/Pocket Books (New York,
The Midnight Train Home, Knopf (New York, NY), 2000.
Venus and the Comets, (novella) Darby Creek Publishing
(Plain City, OH), 2003.
The Garden of Happiness, illustrated by Barbara Lambase,
Harcourt (New York, NY), 1996.
Donnatalee, illustrated by Barbara Lambase, Harcourt (New
York, NY), 1998.