Summer Of My German Soldier is a novel for young adults written by Newberry Honor author Bette Greene. First published in 1973, it evokes a strong emotional response from the reader and was awarded the Outstanding New Book of the Year in 1973 as well as being a National Book Award finalist and an American Literary Association Notable Book. The book is based in Arkansas, where Greene was living at the time, and also refers back to life in Memphis where both the author and her main character spent the first decade of their lives.
The novel tells the story of a twelve year old Jewish girl called Patty Bergen whose summer changes her life forever. During the early 1940s, Patty's small Arkansas hometown becomes the location of a prison camp for captured World War Two German prisoners, and despite the fact that she is Jewish Patty forms a bond with a young prisoner called Anton, identifying with his loneliness and drawn to the fact that he appreciates her character and personality in a way that her own family do not. As well as being a beautifully constructed coming of age story about first love, it is also an insightful glimpse of wartime America and the social issues of the time; for example, there was still segregation, and there was also a social separation between Jews and non-Jews. Children did not have nearly as many rights as they do today, and girls who were physically abused like Patty were more or less the property of their fathers, and although people were aware of his beating her they were not able to do very much about it. It is also a book that provokes a great deal of debate about right and wrong.
Bette Greene went on to write a number of other prize-winning books, including "Morning Is A Long Time Coming", the sequel to Summer Of My German Soldier.