Summer of My German Soldier, Bette Greene's first and best-known novel, chronicles one summer in the life of a twelve-year-old Jewish girl in the rural South. First published in 1973, it was an overwhelming critical success and has gone on to become a classic of juvenile literature. The book was nominated for the National Book Award, and won the New York Times Outstanding Book Award, the Golden Kite Society's children's book writer's award, and the American Library Association's Notable Book Award. In 1978 Greene published a sequel, Morning Is a Long Time Coming.
The novel takes its inspiration in part from the author's own childhood. Like her heroine, Greene grew up in a small Arkansas town at the end of World War II. Her parents owned a country store, and they were the only Jewish family in a Protestant community. The story explores the tensions created by these kinds of ethnic and religious differences. Published the year that the Vietnam conflict ended, her book also acts as an allegory about the prejudices and fears of late 1960s and early 1970s America.
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