Introduction

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Bette Greene 1934–

American novelist, nonfiction writer, and scriptwriter.

Greene's upbringing in a small Arkansas town provides the background for her three novels for young adults. The isolation which Greene experienced as a member of one of the few Jewish families in that town is strongly conveyed in her first novel, Summer of My German Soldier (1973), and in its sequel, Morning Is a Long Time Coming (1978). The first book takes place during World War II and concerns Patty Bergen, a Jewish youngster who befriends a German prisoner of war. The sequel follows Patty on a quest to Germany in search of the soldier's family. Some critics consider Greene's characters oversimplified, but it is generally agreed that in both books Greene effectively portrays Patty's growing awareness of the town's anti-Semitism.

Another concern in these works is Patty's need for independence from her repressive parents. This theme is further developed in Greene's novel Them That Glitter and Them That Don't (1981). Like Patty, the teenage protagonist of this work realizes that in order to live by her own standards she must leave home. Critics praise the novel for its realistic depiction of the tensions between adolescents and their families.

Greene has also written two novels for children: Philip Hall Likes Me. I Reckon Maybe (1978), and Get On Out of Here, Philip Hall (1981).

(See also Children's Literature Review, Vol. 2; Contemporary Authors, Vols. 53-56; Contemporary Authors New Revision Series, Vol. 4; and Something about the Author, Vol. 8.)