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Bette Greene would hammer away at the IBM Selectric typewriter in her attic office.

Sometimes the clacking kept her son Jordan up at night.

"It was like somebody tap dancing on my bedroom ceiling," he said.

Occasionally, he would go upstairs and ask her to stop working. As a child, Jordan didn't realize his mother was a famous novelist.

Bette Greene, the author of "Summer of My German Soldier" and several other books, died early Friday in Lakewood Ranch, Fla. She was 86.

Greene grew up in Parkin, which served as the setting for her most famous novel.

Harold Steinberg of Memphis, Bette Greene's first cousin, said she died of old age.

Jordan Greene, who lives near Baltimore, said his mother had remained active until just a few weeks ago.

"She loved to get out and around and meet people and go for coffee in the morning," he said.

Bette Evensky was born on June 28, 1934, to Arthur Evensky and Sadie Steinberg Evensky, according to the Encyclopedia of Arkansas.

The Evenskys were the only Jewish family in Parkin, which is 35 miles west of Memphis. They had a store called Evensky's Dry Goods.

Bette lived in Parkin until she was 13 years old. She graduated from Central High School in Memphis in 1952. She attended several colleges -- the University of Alabama, Memphis State University (now the University of Memphis), Alliance Francaise in Paris, Columbia University and Harvard University -- but earned no degrees.

She became a professional writer at the age of 9 when she sold a news story about a Parkin barn fire to the Commercial Appeal, the Memphis newspaper, for 18 cents.

She worked again with the Commercial Appeal as a student correspondent while attending Memphis State and later as a full-time reporter, according to the encyclopedia article.

In the early 1950s, she was an occasional contributor to the weekly Hebrew Watchman. Later, she worked for the Memphis Bureau of the United Press, the American Red Cross and the Boston State Psychiatric Hospital.

She married Donald Sumner Greene, a Boston physician, in 1959, and settled in Brookline, Mass., just outside Boston. She had two children, Carla and Jordan.

"Greene's novel Summer of My German Soldier is a young-adult classic, frequently taught in classrooms and popular as elective reading," according to the Encyclopedia of Arkansas. "Set in a small Arkansas town during World War II, it tells the story of a lonely Jewish girl who aids a German prisoner after he escapes from a stateside prisoner of war camp."

Jordan Greene said his mother never told him the story was autobiographical, but she said in a 2011 interview that it was.

"It happened during those years that a Jewish girl gave food and shelter to a German prisoner of war," she said in a YouTube video, Bette Greene, American Classic Novelist, at . "And during World War II, it was a felony. It's about my life. I spent 40 years denying it was about my life, but it was a story bursting out to be told."

"A prisoner-of-war camp was actually located near Wynne, ten miles from Parkin," according to another Encyclopedia of Arkansas entry.

In 1973, "Summer of My German Soldier" was a National Book Award finalist, was listed as an American Library Association Notable Book and won The New York Times Outstanding Book Award and the Golden Kite Society children's book writer's award.

In 1978, the novel was adapted as a television movie.

Greene wrote other acclaimed books. "Philip Hall Likes Me. I Reckon Maybe." was the 1974 New York Times Outstanding Book of the Year and won the American Library Association Notable Children's Book award. In 1975, it was named a Newbery Honor Book.

Other books by Greene include "Morning Is a Long Time Coming" (1978), "A Writer's Survivor Kit" (1981), "Get On Out of Here, Philip Hall" (1981), "Them That Glitter and Them That Don't" (1983), and "The Drowning of Stephan Jones" (1991).

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