David's Reviews > Dogtag Summer

Dogtag Summer by Elizabeth Partridge
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really liked it
bookshelves: historical-fiction, kids-fiction

Dogtag Summer by Elizabeth Partridge follows 12 year old adopted Vietnamese-American Tracy over a summer of discovery as she uncovers, amid returning memories, her personal history back in Vietnam during the war.

When Tracy and a friend discover a soldier's dogtag hidden among her father's things, she grapples with suddenly returning dreams and memories of her days in Vietnam during the War and questions about being adopted and whether she belongs in America with her present family. Tracy's need to investigate her past clashes with her family's wishes and her father's memories from the war. Both Tracy and her adoptive Father struggle with post traumatic stress disorder, but her father tries to resist memories while Tracy searches for the truth from her past. Chapters of this historical novel set in 1980 begin with brief snippets of memories that are returning to Tracy followed by present day events. The novel ends with an appendix with questions and answers focusing on the novel and the Vietnam era and the War that can spur discussions or research.

There's a lot of introspection in this emotional, poignant look at a family coming to terms with their lives during the Vietnam War. The theme of belonging versus feeling alone dominate for Tracy as a con-lai or halfbreed Vietnamese American. The relationship between Tracy and her best friend Stargazer and his family helps Tracy as she struggles with her feelings of not belonging. I did find it a bit odd that Tracy-Tuyet does not seem to focus more on what happened to her mother. I appreciate the discussion questions at the back of the book that will help readers who were not alive as I was during the war to put the novel's events into historical context. There is one scene involving Tracy and a knife that could upset sensitive readers.

I recommend this novel for school and public library collections. This could be used in historical fiction units or units on the Vietnam War.

For grades 5 to 8, Vietnam War, family dynamics, adoption, post-traumatic stress syndrome, identity, belonging, mixed races, and fans of Elizabeth Partridge.
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Reading Progress

January 28, 2011 – Shelved
October 5, 2011 – Started Reading
Finished Reading
October 25, 2011 – Shelved as: historical-fiction
October 25, 2011 – Shelved as: kids-fiction

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