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Encyclopedia of Arkansas Minute: 'Summer Of My German Soldier'

Bette Greene’s 1973 novel "Summer Of My German Soldier," set in eastern Arkansas during World War II, remains a perennial young adult bestseller and one of the most-banned books in the U.S.

Greene’s parents owned a general store at Parkin in Cross County when she was growing up, and her sense of isolation as part of the town’s only Jewish family colored the novel, which involved a young Jewish girl who befriended a German prisoner-of-war and helped him escape, ultimately being sent to reform school for the act. This unhappy ending caused frequent challenges to the award-winning book, which was ranked eighty-eighth of the hundred most challenged books of the twentieth century.

"Summer Of My German Soldier" was adapted for television in 1978, premiering on NBC. While it largely followed the novel’s plot line, the television version ended not with the heroine going to reform school but instead taking a dramatic walk through town with her African-American housekeeper Ruth.

To learn more, visit EncyclopediaOfArkansas.net.