Monday, January 5, 2015

Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene, A Review

Summer of my German Soldier PB

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Book Description

A 1973 National Book Award Finalist, an ALA Notable Book, a New York Times Outstanding Book of the Year. When German prisoners of war are brought to her Arkansas town during World War II, twelve-year-old Patty, a Jewish girl, befriends one of them and must deal with the consequences of that friendship.


I read this book several times when I was growing up.  It is one of the few books that I clearly remember reading as a young girl.  I picked it up as an adult not sure what my response would be.  Certainly I had a connection to it when I was younger and having finished it today I can say that the connection remains.  My heart aches for Patty and there were several times when tears welled up in my eyes.  This book is set during World War Two and explores the themes of racism (not just black/white but also American/German), patriotism, family, and abuse.  As a teacher, I believe in the power of pairing literature with historical events and this book would work so well in the classroom.  I remember being surprised to learn that there had been POWs on American soil during the war and even more surprised to learn about Japanese Internment camps - two facts that are never mentioned in history textbooks (some high school texts may now reference internment camps).  
That being said, the age difference in this book was shocking to me as an adult.  I don't recall thinking anything about it when I was a child.  Patty is twelve and Anton is certainly older. His age isn't specified but at least he is 18 probably older but no more than 20.  As an adult, that's a really big age gap and seems weird. So that would need to be acknowledged as would the use of slang language that is no longer considered to be appropriate.

I remember why I thought this was such a great book growing up and think that it should be more widely read.

I gave this book: 

★ = I did not like it     ★ = It was okay     ★ = I liked it    
★ = I really liked it     ★ = I loved it

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