Summer Of My German Soldier Summary

Bette Greene

Summer Of My German Soldier

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Summer Of My German Soldier Summary

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Summer of My German Soldier (1973) by Bette Greene is told from the point of view of Patty, a twelve-year-old Jewish girl living in Arkansas during the Second World War. One day when she goes to her father’s store, she meets Anton, an escaped German POW.

Patty, a young Jewish girl, is isolated from her community because of her religion; she is also isolated from her family. Her father is overbearing, and her mother disproves of her personality. They dote on her younger sister, while constantly criticizing her.

When her town is chosen to be the site of a POW camp for captured Germans, her life begins to change. A group of them is brought into the store, and one is called to translate for the others. This young man is Anton. He is polite and handsome and nothing like the Nazis she was warned about.

Patty has a secret hideout where she hides her most precious things, including books bought with money her grandmother slyly gives her. She uses this place as an escape from the harsh reality of her life. One day, several U-Boats are captured off shore, and one of the POWs escapes. The FBI gets involved, and a woman comes to the town to find the story. She talks to Patty since her father owns the store where the POWs bought things. She believes Patty has an aptitude for writing and encourages her to become a journalist.

Patty runs into Anton, the translator from the store, and discovers that he is one who escaped. He only wants freedom, and for some reason, she believes him. She hides him, and they become friends. Eventually, he tells her that he cares for her, though she does not believe him. He proves his feelings one day when Patty’s father begins to beat her. Anton leaves his hiding place to intervene, but manages to return before being caught. Ruth, the maid, sees him, but she is fond of Patty and decides to help.

Anton decides it is best if he moves on. He gives Patty a ring that his father gave him and tells her that it is the most prized possession he has. She never sees him again. She is happier for having met him, and for a while, her life improves. Soon, things slide back to the way they were. She shows the ring to a woman who comes in the store, prompting her father to demand where she got it. She makes up an elaborate story, but her father takes it away from her.

Eventually, the sheriff comes to talk to her and gives her back Anton’s ring. The FBI question her, but she gives them all the same story she gives everyone else. They show her a newspaper clipping saying that Anton was shot and killed while resisting arrest.

After this, she admits the truth, and she is arrested. She stays with her grandparents in Memphis during the trial, and her parents are pressured to leave their town. She is sentenced to a reform school after being found guilty of lesser charges.

She has trouble making friends in the reform school because they think she is a Nazi sympathizer. Ruth, her former maid, comes to visit her and gives her the news that her old school is thinking about publishing about her story.

At the end of the book, she leaves reform school aimless and unsure of what she wants to do. She is not sure if she will ever be able to put her life together, but thanks to the influence of Ruth and her experiences with Anton, she is determined that she will at least try.

The book is a classic coming-of-age story. In the beginning, Patty is desperate for attention after being shunned by both her community and her family. She seeks any approval she can find, but when Anton expresses real affection for her, she is unable to accept what he is saying. As she moves through the story, she becomes aware of the consequences of her decisions, though it is not until she goes to the reform school that she finally decides to put her life together and believe in the future.

There are also many different forms of prejudice in the novel. Patty and her family experience anti-Semitism during the height of the war even though they live in the United States. Her family and many others have servants who are black and view them as being of a lesser status than their household. The town has prejudice against Germans thanks to the war. The entire town holds some form of discrimination against someone else, and Patty must learn to find value in herself and others despite these sentiments.

The novel was described as compelling my many critics after its publication. Patty’s struggles with her self-esteem and her pain are something that many teens and young adults can relate to. At the end of the novel, Patty decides that she will keep trying in life without know how things will turn out; this is enough.