A Novel by Samuel A. Berkman
Shy, cynical, and waiting for his chance to be in the spotlight, fifteen year old Roy Harrison?s world is turned upside down when he is forced to leave his suburban Boston high school and accompany his recently widowed father to Alsace- Lorraine, where his dad?s National Guard unit has been activated for the Berlin Crisis in December, 1961.
Roy is forced to attend a French lycee and in finding the resources to cope with a series of harrowing anti-American events that put his own life in danger, comes to realize that opportunities are not always wrapped in little gold packages.
. . . I relaxed under the soothing hot water. It was a
luxury not to have to rush. At home my Dad would tell me to get out after
ten minutes just like he’d make me limit phone calls. I really don't
think it was about money since he always asked me if I had enough cash and
gave me more than I said I needed. Maybe he didn’t really understand
how to be a single parent or, then again, maybe he just liked to boss me
around. But here the city footed the bill.
. . . The students formed a circle around me in the courtyard.
ask questions; they just stared. They looked different from the kids back
home. It went beyond their berets, scarves and pointed shoes and had more
to do with the expressions on their faces as well as some of their features,
but I was too disoriented to notice what they were. I should have enjoyed
the attention since at home my classmates ignored the foreign exchange students.
My friends were mainly interested in fast cars, clothes, beer and sex.
. . . I walked up to take the witness chair the next afternoon.
The large attorney in the frayed dark robe stood two feet away and looked at
me as though I would be the first course in a long delayed meal. He was the
only overweight Frenchman I?d
seen in France. There were cigarette stains on his fingernails and he gave
off a pungent garlic odor.
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For more information about the French Resistance in WWII, the Cold War and the Berlin Wall, please visit our Resources section.