Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Summer of My German Soldier

Patty Bergen does not have what you would call a happy home life.  Abused by her father, Patty struggles to find her way through the world, and often resorts to telling lies.  When a German POW camp is established in town, Patty is fascinated with the prisoners.  One in particular, Anton, develops a rapport with her, and later Patty shelters him as he attempts to escape.  As a Jewish girl, helping a German soldier is seen as a major betrayal, and has serious impact on Patty's life.

This was a difficult story to read, both in terms of the themes and the writing.  First off, the subject of an abused child is always hard to read about.  However, I found the book, and the way it handled the topic of abuse, to be so scattered.  I just had a really difficult time finding a connection with Patty's character.  While her situation was atrocious, the lying and other aspects of her personality made her hard to like.

I also did not really understand Patty's relationship with Anton.  Was it a crush, was it inappropriate, was it a fantasy, or was it just purity of the human spirit?  I have difficulty understanding what motivated her to help him, and what his view of the relationship was.  

I know the book, while fiction, is semi-autobiogrpahical.  I just felt like the author was working out some personal demons, as opposed to focusing on developing an engaging story.  This is targeted to late middle grades, early young adult readers, but I am not sure this is the best demographic.  While it is appropriate from a reading level standpoint, I am not sure that target group will be engaged by this book; it may be better received by older young adult readers.

I received a review copy courtesy of the publisher through NetGalley.

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