Dogtag Summer

Dogtag Summer

4.1 9
by Elizabeth Partridge

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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 doesnt fit in with her adoptive family in
California, either. But when Tracy and a friend discover a soldiers
dogtag hidden among her fathers things, it sets her past and her


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 doesnt fit in with her adoptive family in
California, either. But when Tracy and a friend discover a soldiers
dogtag hidden among her fathers 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? Partridges 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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This gripping yet tender coming-of-age story reveals multiple nuanced perspectives of the Vietnam War and its aftermath in the summer of 1980. A backfiring school bus triggers a series of flashbacks for sixth-grader Tracy. Partridge (Marching for Freedom) smoothly interlaces memories of Tracy's childhood as a "con lai" (half-blood) in wartime Vietnam, where her American heritage endangered her Vietnamese family, and her present-day life as the adopted daughter of a Vietnam veteran who is dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder. When Tracy and her best friend, Stargazer—the child of hippie, war-protesting parents—discover a dogtag in her father's ammo box, the event sets off an unexpected chain of events in both families, leading to excruciating memories, painful misunderstandings, and compassionate insights. Partridge delicately portrays Tracy's struggle to reconcile her last, harrowing memory of her biological mother and her relationship with her loving, adoptive mother, who tries to understand the ghostly memories haunting her daughter and husband. Appendixes include interviews in which Partridge addresses historical questions, as well as a teacher's guide for using this book in a curriculum about Vietnam. Powerful historical fiction. Ages 8–12. (Mar.)
Children's Literature - Claudia Mills
It is the summer of 1980, and eleven-year-old Tracy's coastal California community still feels the lingering aftermath of the war in Vietnam—as when Tracy's best friend Stargazer's "hippie" pacifist father accuses Tracy's Vietnam-vet father of having been a wartime "baby killer." But the war lives on most for Tracy, a mixed-race (con lai, or "half-breed") child, adopted from Vietnam when she was six years old. Newly haunted by memories of her long-ago life with her beloved grandmother and often-absent mother in wartime Vietnam, Tracy is plunged more deeply into painful, yearning recollections when she and Stargazer find an ammo box hidden in the garage, containing a mysterious Army dogtag. Her father's anger at this discovery leads Tracy to force him to confront his own inner scars and hidden demons. Alternating between flashback scenes of Tracy's young childhood in the Vietnamese spring of 1975 and her emerging adolescence in the American summer of 1980, Partridge's richly layered novel explores the legacy of America's most unpopular war as well as posing universal questions about identity and belonging that arise with particular poignancy for a child of two races torn between two worlds. While it is somewhat difficult to believe that Tracy would only now be unearthing these past memories, and doing so in such an obsessive way, a concluding Q&A appendix explains her lapsed memories as an effect of post-traumatic stress disorder. The result is an important and thought-provoking call to readers to understand our own problematic collective past. Reviewer: Claudia Mills, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
Gr 6–8—Vague memories haunt Tracy the summer of 1980, at the end of sixth grade. Her home for five years has been with her adoptive American parents in a California coastal town, but recurrent flashbacks of her early life in war-torn Vietnam make her feel like part of herself is missing. Her father, Bob, was a GI in the Vietnam War, but came back "different" and will not speak about his tour of duty. As Tracy and her friend Stargazer search his garage for tools for a building project, they discover an ammunition box containing a soldier's dogtag. Seeing the children tussling over it, Stargazer's staunchly antiwar father calls Bob a "baby killer," and Stargazer erroneously informs Tracy that her biological mother was a prostitute. Yearning to piece together the truth, Tracy questions Bob, and he finally breaks the silence and secrecy to relate a devastating war experience that killed Tracy's biological father, owner of the dogtag. The use of flashbacks deepens understanding of Tracy's situation as a con-lai child who eventually gains the confidence to use her real name, Tuyet. Partridge also succeeds in incorporating solid historical research into a moving story, using the dogtag, symbol of a most unpopular war, as an instrument of catharsis, bringing truth to light and allowing healing and human connection for Tuyet and her adoptive father.—Susan W. Hunter, Riverside Middle School, Springfield, VT

Product Details

Bloomsbury USA
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Barnes & Noble
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File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
8 Years

Meet the Author

ELIZABETH PARTRIDGE is the author of several award-winning books for young readers, including Marching to Freedom, This Land Was Made for You and Me, and John Lennon: All I Want Is the Truth. Elizabeth lives in California.
Elizabeth Partridge grew up in house full of dogs and cats, chameleons, fish, tortoises, and even a pet tarantula. Elizabeth was the first student to graduate with a degree in Womens Studies from the University of California at Berkeley, and later went to Great Britain to study Chinese medicine. She is the author of several books for young readers, including three biographies: Restless Spirit: the Life and Work of Dorothea Lange, This Land Was Made for You and Me: The Life and Songs of Woody Guthrie, and John Lennon: All I Want is the Truth.

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Dogtag Summer 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ptstd is a difficult subject for vets, more difficult for the anyone who came over as refugees in the final moments of that war. this book was written as a young adult book- however i don't mind stating i am from that crew of people of that time and place. the comments regarding defense mechanisms- and how the memories surface again years later- are true, as is the comments of how vets were treated after that war- so forgotten now this is great read for anyone who wants understanding of a different time, the pain, and hopefully the beginning of the healing needed for the future
Anonymous 6 months ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Storyline went very slowly until the end
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The chapters may "seem" a little misleading/confusing, but they flow very well and consistently with the story, moving it forward right till the end. It was very well written and I couldn't put it down!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Tracy has never felt like she belonged. In Vietnam, she was con lai, half breed, because her father was an American GI. Life with her new family in America isn't much different. When she and her best friend, Stargazer, stumble upon her father's old ammo box and war dogtags, they bring on a slew of questions without answers. She is flooded with memories from her past in Vietnam during the war, and she discovers more about herself than she had ever known. Elizabeth Partridge bravely delves into the complications war has on families. Those who have ever felt as though they were strangers in their own homes will connect with Tracy's struggles to find herself. Alternating between the past and present, the author takes readers on an unforgettable journey.