I normally do not like stories told in the first person, it disconnects me from the narrative somehow. This is an exception. I read it when I was 19.
Patty is 12, Jewish and has a dysfunctional family. She lives in Arkansas and there is a POW camp not far from her home. She finds an escaped POW, Anton and hides him.
Anton is a reluctant soldier and muddies all Patty has ever been told about the Germans. His mother is English thus he speaks it fluently. He has no opinion on the Nazi’s and neither does he hate Patty for her heritage. As they talk he gives her a feeling of value and self-worth. She falls a little in love with him and he treats her girlish heart with a gentleness she never received from her family.
This is a story that challenges preconceptions and turns the picture the media paints of the war on its head. The book is filled with injustices and hypocrisy but at no point do the characters fix these issues. They are highlighted but there is no “good” character that tries to resolve it all.
It was a brave book to write in the face of the national perception in America, especially as it is aimed at children. Anton helps Patty have the confidence to stand up to her family and decide for herself what is right and wrong. I cried like a baby over the ending and still love Anton a little bit. I wish I had had a big brother figure like him when I was growing up.