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Dogtag Summer


Dogtag Summer

Alethea Allarey

Official Links


Written by Elizabeth Partridge

Published by Bloomsbury USA Children's, 2011

2015-2016 Winner - Middle School/Junior High


Twelve-year-old Tracy--or Tuyet--has always felt different. The villagers in Vietnam called her con-lai, or "half-breed," because her father was an American GI. And she doesn't fit in with her adoptive family in California, either. But when Tracy and a friend discover a soldier's dogtag hidden among her father's things, it sets her past and her present on a collision course. Where should her broken heart come to rest? In a time and place she remembers only in her dreams? Or among the people she now calls family? Partridge's sensitive portrayal of a girl and her family grappling with the complicated legacy of war is as timely today as the events were decades ago.

Excerpt from Dogtag Summer (pages 189-190):

I didn't trust myself to stay awake if I got in bed, so I sat down on my bedspread and watched the second hand on the clock sweep around and around.  At eleven o'clock I slipped out the back door.
Outside, the moonlight flooded everything.  The night air was warm against my arms and legs as I coasted down the hill on my bike.  On Highway One a tiny chill of fog hung in the air.  I was prepared to pull off the road and hide in the bushes, but no cars came by the whole time.  At Jones Brothers I turned and rode up the hill toward Stargazer's.  But instead of going up his driveway, I rode uphill for another few minutes, then leaned my bike against the fencing, and cut through the neighbor's orchard, cleared long ago from the redwood forest.
I stopped at the crest of a hill under an apple tree and looked down at the river.  It shone silver in the moonlight.  I could see the rocks we liked to lie on, and the path from Stargazer's house.  The only place the moonlight didn't reach were the redwoods.  They looked dense, impenetrable.  I trotted down to the rocks below.
I sat on the rocks and waited.  It felt like I waited a long time, long past midnight, but finally I saw Stargazer on the path, pulling his wagon with the ship loaded on it.


From Dogtag Summer © Elizabeth Partridge, published by Bloomsbury. Used with permission.