Friday, April 28, 2006

Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene

I first read this book when I was about 13 or 14 for school. Kailana was talking about it to me one day during a conversation that we were having and as soon as she mentioned it I was like I have to reread this book!!

The summer that Patty Bergen turns twelve is a summer that will haunt her forever. When her small hometown in Arkansas becomes the site of a camp housing German prisoners during World War II, Patty learns what it means to open her heart. Even though she's Jewish, she begins to see a prison escapee,
Anton, not as a Nazi, but as a lonely, frightened young man with feelings not unlike her own.

In Anton, Patty finds someone who softens the pain of her own father's rejection and who appreciates her in a way her mother never
will. While patriotic feelings run high, Patty risks losing family, friends -- even her freedom -- for this dangerous friendship. It is a risk she has to take and one she will have to pay a price to keep

I did have some recollection of the basics of the story when I started reading it, but I have to say that I was very surprised by how vicious Patti's father really is to her, and the reasons why Patti isn't really loved by her family is never explored or answered. I don' t remember thinking about this when I read it the first time around at all (of course that is a LONG time ago!)

The Bergen's are the only Jewish family in their small Arkansas town and Patti has always known that she is different. Her father runs the local store, and Patti tries to help out when she can to try and gain some approval from her father. One day she gets to serve a young German POW when a group of them come in to the store to buy some hats.

When the same young man escapes from prison, Patti sees him running along the railway tracks, Patti gives him a hiding place, and starts to befriend him, feeding him and spending time with him in his hiding place.

This is not only a look at the unlikely friendship between a young Jewish girl and a German POW, but also between Patti and her family's African-American servant, who is the only person apart from Anton who seems to value Patti.

I was left with an overwhelming feeling of sadness for this young girl who was living in an abusive family, and wondered how she would ever get to a point in her life where she could be successful and happy. There is a sequel to the book, but I haven't been able to locate it anywhere here.

Reading it did, however, make me think about rereads in general a little. This is the first reread for me this year, and it was a book that I read over twenty years ago. That doesn't mean to say that I haven't tried to reread other books this year. I have tried to reread two of my favourite books and the thing that seems to happen is that I really enjoy the book, and then I put it down, and something that I haven't read calls my name and that is it! Maybe I am just not cut out for least not whole books! I do reread the good bits of certain books though!!! So why do I keep all of these books? Maybe a just in case thing I think.

Rating for this book 4/5

Other Blogger's Thoughts:

Framed and Booked


  1. I read this book many years ago (when I was a teenager myself!) and remember its ending more vividly than the rest of the book. It was a lot more open-ended than I was used to at the time, as I recall, but it was quite powerful. Glad to see this one's still around!

  2. OMG. It's been YEARS since I read that one [along with SUMMER OF '42 or '47? ... no, it was SUMMER WITH THE GERMAN? *thinking* I can't remember now]. I usually avoid re-reads [unless it's a comfort read], but for this one, I'll make an exception. :D Thanks for that blast from the past. :D

  3. That was exactly my reaction when Kailana reminded me about this one!

  4. There is a sequel to this, "Morning is a Long Time Coming". I have it too. :)

  5. I've read a few of the reviews for the sequel and they are quite mixed. Will be interested to hear what you think of it when you get to it.