Friday, August 19, 2011

August Book Group & Book Review -- Summer of My German Soldier

My enjoyment rating: 2.5 out  of 5 stars.

Source:  Library Copy.

Book Group Choice for August.

Genre:  Juvenile Fiction

Patty Bergen has a secret – a big one!

But her secret could put her life and future in danger, but she is willing to take the risk.

When a group of German POWs are detained at a prison camp in NE Arkansas (based on true historical events), Patty is intrigued by the excitement it has created within her community. But when a few of them are brought to her father’s store to buy hats to protect them from the intense Arkansas sun, Patty learns that they are not the mean “monsters” they are portrayed to be. When she befriends Anton, one of the POWs, she finds a kindred spirit, and someone who truly cares for her, when no one else in her family seems to acknowledge her existence.

For a twelve year old girl, Patty’s life should be carefree and fun; but she lives in a physically and mentally abusive family – so when Anton escapes the prison camp, and Patty provides him refuge, she is putting her life and future in peril.

Written in 1973, Bette Greene’s novel, Summer of My German Soldier, has become a staple of juvenile fiction reading lists. It’s a story of defiance, brutality, and a search for love and acceptance.

This was our book club choice for August. Truth is – it was a depressing read!

The pain and abuse Patty’s father inflicts on her is graphic and violent. For a middle grade novel, I was surprised at the nature at which Patty’s father beats her – especially, in the presence of others, and no one comes to her aide.

The relationship between Anton and Patty was compassionate, but also unrealistic based on their ages – he 22, she 12. I guess the author was trying to show how desperate Patty was in seeking someone who genuinely “liked” her. But it was awkward, and never felt “real” to me.

The most redemptive part of the book was Patty’s relationship with her “help” Ruth. It was a tender and maternal bond that was particularly poignant at the end of the story.

This was not overly liked by our members – and not at all what I expected – quite a downer.

Our next book choice is: Skeletons at the Feast by Chris Bohjalian

Skeletons at the Feast

1 comment:

Bailey said...

Sometimes I have a hard time liking downer books, too. Other times they have some kind of redemptive quality that wins me over, but then they can often just wind up being depressing. On another note - it makes me happy that you've read The Good, Good Pig! Most people aren't familiar with that little gem. :)