Summer of My German Soldier and Morning Is a Long Time Coming by Betty Greene.
BUT...this was just not an uplifting or redemptive book. It's a story about a Jewish girl named Patty Bergen. She is barely 12 years old. Her hometown becomes the site of a prisoner of war camp for German prisoners during WWII. She, a Jewish girl, helps Anton, a young German soldier, escape from the camp. It's really bizarre though because she falls in love with him (remember, she's barely 12, he's 19 or 20.) They even kiss at one point. In the end Anton is captured and shot and everyone in town despises Patty for harboring this criminal and she is sent off to a reform school/prison type place. Throughout the book there are snippets of abuse from her parents. Her father beats her repeatedly and her mother verbally abuses her at every opportunity. The worst part of it is- the parents are so one dimensional. You really never discover why they dislike their daughter and treat her so. It's just negative for no reason. I found the story unrealistic, depressing and lacking a redemptive sort of ending.
Morning is a Long Time Coming follows Patty as she gets out of the reform school, finishes high school and goes off to Europe. I honestly couldn't even finish it- it was so bad. I kinda skimmed through and found that she eventually hooks up with some guy in Europe and lives with him and sleeps with him. Blech. There was nothing positive, uplifting or educational about this book if you ask me. There are plenty of other WWII books that give you a glimpse of the dark side of the war, yet have positive and educational aspects. The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom and The Diary of Anne Frank are two I can come up with off the top of my head.
But, I will share the great quotes I found in the first book so you don't miss out on those!
Patty is talking about the black woman, Ruth who works for their family.
Sometimes I her my mother telling her to lose weight. "It's not healthy to be fat." But she isn't actually fat; it's just that she has to wear large sizes. I mean, it wouldn't be Ruth if she were like my mother. And another thing, a little extra weight keeps a person warm inside.
On another occasion Patty is going to head to town and Ruth stops her and wants her to change her outfit first. Ruth is in quotes at the beginning and then it goes to what Patty is thinking.
"I want you to take off them faded old shorts and put on one of them nice pretty dresses of yours." Sounds like my mother! "For goodness sake; why do I have to get all dressed up to go to the store? I'm coming right back."
"Pride, Patty Babe, you gotta have pride."
"Is that why you wear a Sunday dress to walk back and forth to work?"
"That's right," she said, looking pleased that I had caught on so quickly. "It's the pride. It's me shouting out to the world that one of God's creatures is walking on by. You think God would like it if we went and used the Good Book for a doorstop?"
I shook my head No.
"Well, now, you think he bees liking it one bit better if one of his creatures be going round in dirty, worn-out clothes? You understands that, Patty?
"I guess so."
I liked one little tidbit describing the heat of their Arkansas town- it would probably also apply to the Mojave desert where I live.
Hot by noon; Hades by afternoon.Here Patty is remembering something her grandfather said about her grandmother:
Grandpa said that he married a 90-pound girl and now he's got a 180-pound woman.Twice what he bargained for.
When Patty is talking to Anton on one occasion she explained to him what Eli Whitney did (inventor of the cotton gin.) He says the following:
Clever of Mr. Whitney. Perhaps even genius. What is genius anyway, if it isn't the ability to give an adequate response to a great challenge?Anton and Patty are having a conversation about the last time Patty's father had beaten her badly. Anton had witnessed the beating and almost let himself be seen to save her from it. Anton later overheard Patty's father talking to himself after the beating. So he spoke to Patty about the incident.
"Do you have any idea where you father went-what he did immediately following the beating he gave you?"
Not exactly, I could guess(....)
"...he came into the garage and talked to himself. Over and over he kept repeating, 'Nobody loves me. In my whole life nobody has ever loved me.'"
...it seems to me that a man who is incapable of humor is capable of cruelty. If Hitler for example, had had the ability-the detachment-to observe the absurdity of his own behavior he would have laughed, and today there might not be a madman named Adolph Hitler. "
Did you love some of those quotes like I did? Sorry if they are too far out of context to make sense to you. So, this book really had some good quote gems, but I just couldn't get excited about the story. I think there are far better books school kids could be reading about WWII. Any other suggestions for good WWII reads?