Purple Heart by Patricia McCormick

purple heart
Private Matt Duffy wakes up one morning in a hospital ward in Baghdad’s Green Zone with scrambled brains and scrambled memories. He’s awarded a Purple Heart before he can even remember exactly what he did to earn it. Matt just knows there was an alley he wasn’t supposed to be in, an Iraqi boy who wasn’t supposed to be there, and a rocket propelled grenade that was supposed to hit him—but didn’t, though it knocked him around pretty bad. Now Matt has to piece together the broken bits of his memory to try and establish what happened in the alley that day. But the higher ups don’t seem to be looking into his story too closely and Matt starts to wonder if they want to learn the truth—or bury it. Soon Matt rejoins his unit, happy to be back with his friends but troubled by the fact that he still doesn’t know exactly what went down the day his world exploded. What did he do? Did he run? Did he hide? Did he cover his buddies? Did he…kill someone? With a minimum of words and a maximum of heart, Patricia McCormick tells one young soldier’s story that could be every young soldier’s story. “It wasn’t about fighting the enemy. It wasn’t about politics or oil or even about terrorists. It was about your buddies; it was about fighting for the guy next to you. And knowing he was fighting for you.” Matt’s feelings and observations are sincere and very real, based on McCormick’s extensive research and interviews. With only a few words, she quietly captures small moments that bring the war right up out of the pages. Like when Matt sees orderlies coming down the hall pushing a gurney with a body bag. “Still, he kept his head erect, his back stiff, his mouth set in a straight line as the gurney got closer. Then, just as it passed by, he flinched.” When Matt finally does learn the truth about what happened that day, he begins to realize that the black and white war he believed he was fighting is much grayer than he could have ever imagined. This sobering psychological mystery pulls no punches. Want to learn more about what it’s like on the ground in Iraq? An excellent nonfiction follow-up is The Good Soldiers by David Finkel.

10 thoughts on “Purple Heart by Patricia McCormick

  1. I will try The Good Soldiers (i like the excellent description), I liked Purple Heart, but I felt like something was missing in the descriptions, your review helped clear that up!

  2. Found what I put in Goodreads about Purple Heart—-Wow, I was blown away by the events in this book about the Iraq War and how Matt Duffy perceives the war, his life, his squad after a traumatic brain injury. I think McCormick did a great job of showing all the conflicting sides of the war and that the situations could look one way and be another. I liked this book, but I loved Sold and found each word in McCormick’s details compelling. I think the narrative in Purple Heart wasn’t as haunting as Sold but still a good read. Any reader with an interest in war stories or historical fiction will enjoy this!

  3. Awesome renovation! Clear, easy to read and the new look rocks. 10 years! you are the queen of the blogs 😉

  4. Thanks Lynn & Elf! It’s funny, we posted that section on the 10 years a few years ago, but now it’s getting more notice now that we shuffled things around and it’s at the top:) Thanks for your kind feedback, please continue to stop by and send your teen readers here!

  5. Ooh, PURTY! Lookit the new blog! I tend to read you on a reader, so I hadn’t realized everything had changed. It really looks excellent.

  6. Thanks, Tanita! And belated congrats on your CSK award! Does this mean I’ll see you at ALA?

  7. Thanks, Scope:) Your new look is pretty sweet, too! Love those scrolling reviews. Fancy!

  8. Wow, the colors are eye popping, and I like the Teen Authors, Book Review Websites & Blogs for Teens—awesome!

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