Review: Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene

Summer of my German Soldier - Bette Greene



Physical child abuse

Mental/Emotional child abuse (including gaslighting)

Grooming of young teens

All the racism

All the anti-Semitism

All the classism

Stereotypes of Southerners



This horrible piece of shit story takes place a small rural town in Arkansas in 1942. Ergo, Jim Crow is in full swing, so don't be surprised with words like "colored", "ni**er, nig*a is said aloud by many of the characters. One of the important characters to this book is the black housekeeper/cook, who is the very epitome of the Mammy stereotype. I tried to like this character, but her insistence upon shoving her religion (Christianity) down the throats the minor children of a Jewish household just kept me from doing so.  Seriously, so much Christianity is shoved down the throats of the young Jews in this book and the reader. Yet the premise for the conflict is the relationship between a German (aka "Nazi") and a Jewish girl.


The "hero" of this "love" story was Anton Reiker, a POW sent to Arkansas to be kept in a POW camp outside the town. Anton was caught fighting for the Germans, but he was one of the "good" Germans - aka he made mention of how he didn't like or support Hitler and he was drafted to fight in the Germany army against his will. So he isn't a "real" Nazi and therefore could be made into a dreamy counterpoint for the heroine. He "fell" in love with said heroine after she helped him hide after escaping the camp. He was 22, she was 12. They shared a kiss, but the age range still made me sick.




Seriously, the grooming of a young girl who hadn't even gotten her period yet was sickening.


The heroine, Patty Bergen, was seriously an emotional and mental mess. She was a pathological liar, impulsive, and was a stereotypical tween. Her home life sucks and so she falls for Anton and helps him hide out, risking both their lives because she is in love. She is consistently gaslighted by her cruel bitch of a mother and physically beaten (outside, in broad daylight, in front of towns people) to the point of black out by her father. So she was easy prey for Anton. Speaking of the parents, the mother was the epitome of Jewish Princess stereotype and the father was so emotionally stunted he raged at everything.


The climax was one you could see coming a mile away. The ending was crap and showed that Patty was emotionally vulnerable for the next predator to come by and show her five minutes of attention.


There was a scene where a mob of people are harassing Patty during the investigation and one person screams "Jew-Nazi" - WTF was that supposed to mean? And then there was the dialogue, written to showcase Southern accent; words like "shore" rather than "sure" and "you is". Of course, white folks in town think the housekeeper is uppity for the way she talks to others - all she does is speak honestly.




This is going on the list of books for my kids to avoid. 0 stars. Summer Bingo square "book bust."