Purple Heart

Purple Heart

4.2 57
by Patricia McCormick
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

When Private Matt Duffy wakes up in an army hospital in Iraq, he's honored with a Purple Heart. But he doesn't feel like a hero.

There's a memory that haunts him: an image of a young Iraqi boy as a bullet hits his chest. Matt can't shake the feeling that he was somehow involved in his death. But because of a head injury he sustained just moments after the boy

…  See more details below

Overview

When Private Matt Duffy wakes up in an army hospital in Iraq, he's honored with a Purple Heart. But he doesn't feel like a hero.

There's a memory that haunts him: an image of a young Iraqi boy as a bullet hits his chest. Matt can't shake the feeling that he was somehow involved in his death. But because of a head injury he sustained just moments after the boy was shot, Matt can't quite put all the pieces together.

Eventually Matt is sent back into combat with his squad—Justin, Wolf, and Charlene—the soldiers who have become his family during his time in Iraq. He just wants to go back to being the soldier he once was. But he sees potential threats everywhere and lives in fear of not being able to pull the trigger when the time comes. In combat there is no black-and-white, and Matt soon discovers that the notion of who is guilty is very complicated indeed.

National Book Award Finalist Patricia McCormick has written a visceral and compelling portrait of life in a war zone, where loyalty is valued above all, and death is terrifyingly commonplace.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this suspenseful psychological thriller, 18-year-old Matt Duffy, a private with memory problems following a traumatic brain injury, receives the Purple Heart in Iraq and gradually unravels the contradictory events that led to the honor. McCormick (Sold) sharply draws the culture of the Green Zone hospital, the camaraderie of the enlisted men and (via phone calls and letters) the gulf between life at home versus on the front. Friendship, bravado and juvenile antics counteract the soldiers' guilt, paranoia and unease around Iraqis (“ 'Enemy' was the official term. 'Insurgents' was okay, too. Everybody called them hajis, though”). Strong characters heighten the drama, especially likable Matt, but also the sympathetic hospital psychiatrist who balances complicated allegiances and legal obligations, and flinty Charlene, the sole female member of Matt's squad. As Matt remembers more and more, tension builds and he becomes confused about interpretations of the truth (and when to reveal them) within the chain of command. McCormick raises moral questions without judgment and will have readers examining not only this conflict but the nature of heroism and war. Ages 12–up. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - K. Meghan Robertson
Young private Matt Duffy leaves his mom, sister, and girlfriend to fight for his country in Iraq. One day out on patrol leads to a chase that ends with Matt and his best friend Justin separated from the rest of their squad in an alley. The exact events of what happened in the alley are unclear from the time Matt wakes up in the hospital bed in the Green Zone to the time he makes a return visit to the alley weeks later. He tries desperately both to piece everything together in efforts to gain his own peace of mind about the death of Ali, the little Iraqi boy with whom he played soccer, and to understand why Justin acts so differently around him now. While Matt is kept for observation and treatment of TBI, he visits a psychologist to help him regain his memory and has many encounters with other wounded soldiers and military leaders whose ethics seem confusing to Matt. The realities of war become frighteningly clear through this historical fiction. This is not suitable for all readers, as there is much adult language/profanity, military terminology, weapons, killing, and so forth, but it is an intriguing look into the life of a modern soldier. Reviewer: K. Meghan Robertson
Children's Literature - Greg M. Romaneck
Matt awakens dazed and confused in a hospital in Baghdad. He cannot recall what happened but he has a nagging feeling that it was not good. As he is treated for what proves to be Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) caused by an RPG attack, Matt experiences memory loss, motor planning issues, and word retrieval problems. Aside from these physical and cognitive concerns, Matt is also troubled by what might have happened in the firefight that he took part in. Over time Matt discovers that a child was killed in the fight that nearly killed him as well. When Matt returns to his unit and goes back on the dangerous streets he must patrol, he struggles to understand and remember just what happened. On a patrol Matt returns to the scene of the firefight and discovers the truth. Sadly, Matt's discovery is not what he hoped it would be and it comes on a day marked by even worse terror and loss. Purple Heart is a novel of the Iraq War. It tells the story of a handful of American soldiers serving in a place where nothing seems certain or clear cut. Through Matt's experiences the reader comes a little closer to understanding the plight of American soldiers and the Iraqi civilians they encounter in a war that has no clear boundaries. Purple Heart is a compelling book that features a gritty narrative, sometimes profane dialog, and character development that makes the young men and women in Matt's squad come to life in a touching way. Reviewer: Greg M. Romaneck
VOYA - Nancy Pierce
Private Matt Duffy is awarded the Purple Heart during his service in Iraq, but as he recovers in a military hospital from a traumatic brain injury, he cannot remember exactly how he was injured or the events surrounding his injury. Memories come back to Matt in flashes, but they confuse him more than clarify. When Matt is asked to meet with senior officers about a complaint regarding the death of Ali, a young Iraqi boy Matt befriended, Matt begins to question how Ali died and who killed him. Was Matt at fault? Did Justin, his best friend in Iraq, kill an innocent boy? Matt is filled with doubts, and he attempts to piece together the incident by talking to the military's "evaluator," a priest, and a fellow patient who suffers from his own demons, while at the same time trying to maintain ties with his family and girlfriend back home. Nothing really becomes clear until Matt returns to the field and someone else dies. McCormick does an excellent job in tying the confusion of battle in urban Iraq to the bewilderment a young private feels as he desperately tries to understand what happened to him with a brain that will not cooperate. Where this book fails is by not giving much consideration from the Iraqi perspective, so readers do not get a clear view of all players involved. Nevertheless the author does an excellent job of putting the reader into the shoes of a young American soldier and how he copes with the fog of war. Reviewer: Nancy Pierce
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—McCormick follows up her best-selling Sold (Hyperion, 2006) with a haunting look at the soldiers in Iraq. Matt Duffy is a private who escapes dying after nearly being hit by an RPG, but cannot remember what happened to him, has a hard time grasping new things, and desperately wants to get back to his squad. Most of the book is about Matt trying to recover from TBI, the soldiers he meets in the hospital and the physical and mental problems they face, and the discovery of what really happened that day he got shot. The characters are heart-wrenching, true, and realistic. The author's research into the war is obvious and brings an awareness to readers of the situation over there that they might not otherwise have. What the text lacks is a sense of the military action. While this is a worthy purchase, teens will get more out of it if they read Walter Dean Myers's Sunrise Over Fallujah (Scholastic, 2008) first.—Richard Winters, Wasco High School, CA
Kirkus Reviews
Injured, dazed and bewildered from combat, teenager Private Matt Duffy wakes up in the infirmary to receive the prized Purple Heart for his valor in Iraq. He suffers from severe traumatic brain injury, so his memories of his last patrol are broken and hazy at best: He remembers raising the barrel of his gun to the face of an Iraqi boy and his friend Wolf coming to his rescue. McCormick builds the plot subtly and carefully with rich, spare prose. At first readers will feel nearly as disoriented as Matt as he pieces together what happened, but his clarity slowly returns, and both Matt and readers are filled with unease and a sinking dread that he may have killed the boy who haunts his memories. The minor characters are drawn just as humanely as Matt; readers will come to love and respect each young soldier who visits him in the hospital. The author tenderly calculates the guilt and trepidation that infect Matt's mind, and when he returns to patrol, what he finds on the streets of Iraq will either make him or break him. (Fiction. YA)
ALA Booklist
“Gripping details of existence in a war zone bring this to life.”
—Bob Woodruff
“Many of the soldiers in Iraq were not yet teenagers when this war began. What they and the children of Iraq are experiencing is not a political issue-it’s a human issue. PURPLE HEART is a visceral and affecting portrait of their world.”
Bob Woodruff
"Many of the soldiers in Iraq were not yet teenagers when this war began. What they and the children of Iraq are experiencing is not a political issue-it’s a human issue. PURPLE HEART is a visceral and affecting portrait of their world."
Barbara A. Ward
Eighteen-year-old American soldier Matt Duffy is haunted by the memory of a young Iraqi boy killed while he and a buddy were patrolling a city street. The bits and pieces of what may have happened become clearer as he recovers from his traumatic brain injury in a military hospital. As he comes closer to the truth, he is no longer sure whether he can even trust himself, much less his superiors, who seem reluctant to examine the incident too closely. Despite the betrayal he feels, he remains convinced that there is humanity in everyone—even his enemies. The book raises many questions about loyalty, war, and those left behind, as Matt ponders the difference between his own daily existence and need to be constantly on guard versus his high school girlfriend's life, in which the biggest worry is a biology test. Especially effective is the juxtaposition between the soldiers at play and at war. Reviewer: Barbara A. Ward

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061948763
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
09/01/2009
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
224
Sales rank:
479,355
Lexile:
760L (what's this?)
File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

What People are saying about this

Bob Woodruff
“Many of the soldiers in Iraq were not yet teenagers when this war began. What they and the children of Iraq are experiencing is not a political issue-it’s a human issue. PURPLE HEART is a visceral and affecting portrait of their world.”

Meet the Author

Patricia McCormick is a two-time National Book Award finalist and former journalist who has won much acclaim for her compassionate approach to hard-hitting subjects. Her book Purple Heart was a Publishers Weekly Best Book, and her book Sold, also a National Book Award Finalist, is soon to be a feature film. Other seminal books she has written are Cut and My Brother's Keeper. Patty lives in New York with her family.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >