DOGTAG SUMMER by Elizabeth Partridge


Age Range: 9 - 14
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A child of conflict struggles to understand her past and her present in this impressive historical novel. Partridge proves her keen understanding of young people and her ability to write engrossing fiction grounded in the history she usually illuminates in nonfiction. This is a dual narrative of Tracy’s story, alternating between her experiences as a con lai, or half-Vietnamese/half-American child, in that country in 1975 and her time as an adopted only child enmeshed in her now-ordinary life on the coast of California five years later. The trauma that she suffered in the past emerges from deeply buried memories at the beginning of summer when she and best friend Stargazer, a child of hippies, build a Viking ship of war. Tracy’s father, a Vietnam vet, has hidden an old ammo box with a set of dogtags inside, and their discovery sets into motion Tracy’s process of remembering her past and connecting it with the present. Only 11, Tracy is realistically inarticulate, yet the depth of her emotion and suffering comes through. Never reverting to stereotypes, Partridge uses Tracy and Stargazer's fast friendship to help capture the ambivalence of the culture toward the war, as well as the struggle of the vets to personally cope with their experiences. A strong yet gentle read. (teacher's guide) (Historical fiction. 9-14)

Pub Date: March 15th, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-59990-183-1
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2011


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