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.