Sunday, April 08, 2007
Summer of My German Soldier
Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene: Yesterday I spent all day reading this book as my first book in the Banned Book Challenge. It's the story of Patty Bergen, a young Jewish girl living in small town Arkansas during the 1940s. Patty is emotionally abused by her mother and both physically and emotionally abused by her father. Her longing for an unconditional love is almost palpable. She finds it in the most unlikely of places when she meets a German prisoner of war, Anton, who has come to her father's shop with other POWs to buy a hat to keep the sun out of his face. When Anton engineers an escape from the prison camp, Patty has to decide whether and how to help him. I've tried to think why it would be banned or challenged in libraries and I don't really know. The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture says it is most frequently challenged because of the ending which is deemed too pessimistic or unsuited to the age group. I didn't find it too pessimistic -- it wasn't a "happy happy joy joy" ending, but that kind of conclusion would have been completely unrealistic and would have made me dislike the novel. As for being unsuited to the age group, my daughter falls in that age range and I gave it to her to read.