|Bette Greene: Morning Is A Long Time Coming|
Books (Paperback), ISBN 0141306351
This sequel to Summer of My German Soldier opens after the end of World War II. Patty Bergen (now 18 and a high school graduate) stands at the edge of her future, restrained by her family's demand that she attend college and propelled by her own desire to travel to Germany. Anton, her German soldier, died over six years ago, but she can't forget him. Scarred both by losing Anton and the absence of parental love, Patty hopes to find in Anton's mother the kind of mother she never knew.
Though it means causing her unforgiving Jewish family another embarrassment (the first being her support and hiding of an escaped German prisoner of war), Patty decides to embrace her dream and leave Jenkensville behind. When Patty shares her plan with her maternal grandparents, her grandmother calls it a betrayal. How could a Jew visit such a terrible place that wrought death upon so many of her relatives?
Patty relives the
horrors of the Holocaust through her grandmother's eyes: the beheading
of Great Uncle Juda, the killing of her grandmother's sisters and the
murder and devastation of countless other innocent Jews. But Patty knows
from her own experiences that Americans can be as guilty of hatred and
persecution as Nazis, and you can't blame every German for the Nazis'
En route to Europe, Patty begins the process of coming to terms with her mother's lies and her father's animosity. She realizes she is an appealing person, not the sloppy, ugly girl her mother describes or the unlovable child her father makes her out to be. In Paris, Patty enters into her first love affair. But unable to give up her fantasy, Patty cannot move forward until she goes to Germany and deals with the ghosts of the past.
Not set against the backdrop of World War II but framed by it, Morning Is A Long Time Coming provides a compelling first person narrative of a child who lived through the war as much as those who fought in it. While the book deals primarily with the ghosts of Patty's past and not World War II, the story offers a chilling post-war reflection of the Holocaust by Patty's grandmother.
Morning is a Long Time Coming falls short of Summer of My German Soldier, but it displays a great deal of character development and resolution, and provides in a worthwhile read. Most importantly, Patty's saga subtly suggests that we must know and understand the past in order to proceed to and change the future. In light of the world's history, this proves a lesson that we all should learn.
Lynne Remick Pisano
Related articles: Bette Green: Summer of My German Soldier
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