Summer of My German Soldier, is Bette Green’s 1973 novel about young love in a small southern town during World War II.
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. [Amazon.com]
I remember reading this book in middle school and loving it. As I recall I cried buckets. SoMGS doesn’t hold quite the same appeal for me now, but I still found it a decent read. (This time though I found Ruth the most interesting character, and really would have rather read “Summer of my African American Domestic Worker.” — Guess I’ll be re-reading The Help, huh?)
So why is SoMGS perenially on the Banned Book List?
The most frequent complaints against Summer of My German Soldier concern the conclusion—Anton’s death and Patty’s punishment. Greene considers the conclusion to be socially and psychologically realistic, but the challenges have portrayed it as “pessimistic” or “unsuited to the age group. [businessclarksville.com/]
On our matrix there is certainly Cultural Insensitivity, Racism, Offensive Language (the ‘N’ word is used several times) and Violence (Patty’s father is physically abusive.)
The book was made into a television movie staring Bruce Davidson (who was wonderful) and Kristi McNichol in 1979.