21 February 2012

Review: Summer of My German Solider by Bette Greene

Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene

Originally published: 1 November 1974

Republished: 27 September 2011 by OpenRoad

Pages: 240 (e-book)

Genre/s: Young Adult, WWII

Source: publisher via NetGalley

Check it Out: Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Amazon UK ~ The Book Depository


Minutes before the train pulled into the station in Jenkinsville, Arkansas, Patty Bergen knew something exciting was going to happen. But she never could have imagined that her summer would be so memorable. German prisoners of war have arrived to make their new home in the prison camp in Jenkinsville. To the rest of her town, these prisoners are only Nazis. But to Patty, a young Jewish girl with a turbulent home life, one boy in particular becomes an unlikely friend. Anton relates to Patty in ways that her mother and father never can. But when their forbidden relationship is discovered, will Patty risk her family and town for the understanding and love of one boy?

My Thoughts

Patty Bergen is the eldest daughter of the Bergen family, who run the department store in the small town of Jenkinsville, Arkansas. For reasons known only to themselves, the Bergen’s’ treat Patty as more of a nuisance than a daughter, bestowing all their love and affection on their younger daughter, Sharon. Patty isn’t the most popular girl in town, and being Jewish sets her even further apart from her peers. After watching German prisoners of war being transported to the nearby POW camp, a chance meeting with one young soldier sets the scene for Patty’s story.

Summer of My German Soldier explores themes of 1940’s America and the effect of the war on ordinary Americans who, naturally, view the Germans as the enemy and have no tolerance, nor understanding for young soldiers who have ended up in a country where they do not speak the language, far from their homes.

Although I enjoyed the story, I was slightly disappointed with the ending, which was quite abrupt. I would also have liked to know more about what happened to Patty and some more insight into her family and the reasons behind their behaviour.

Written simplistically, yet emotionally it is hard not to feel sympathy for Patty and the situations in which she finds herself. It is also hard not to like Patty, who despite her difficult family life dreams of a future where she can be free and independent, at a time when children were expected to be seen and not heard. Shocking in parts and touching in others, Summer of My German Soldier is a book in which most of us could find things in common with our younger selves.

1 comment:

  1. I absolutely loved this book and cried buckets over it when I was in junior high. There is a sequel that picks up the story 6 years later called "Morning is a Long Time Coming." I don't think it is nearly as good as the first book though. And I don't know if I would enjoy the first book as much as an adult.



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