Sunday, November 27, 2011

Book Review-Purple Heart

By Patricia McCormick
199 Pages

From Inside Cover:
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.
My Thoughts:
A Middle School Librarian asked me to preview this book before putting it on the shelf for her students. Purple Heart is a book I would have totally judged by it's cover and passed it over. I don't normally seek out books about war. I'm so very glad I had the opportunity to read Purple Heart and experience Patricia McCormick's amazing story.
Purple Heart gives you a chance to experience the War in Iraq from a soldier's point of view. It's not pretty. Matt is laying in a hospital bed with a traumatic brain injury. As Matt lays there recovering he tries to piece together the moments he and a fellow soldier were caught in cross fire and a young boy was killed. We are with Matt as certain truths are revealed and the chain of events leading up to the explosion start to become more clear to him. Soon he is back in the field with his squad-but can he still trust them and can he still protect them. Everything is different and he is changed. He still needs to know what happened to this little boy and if he was the cause of his death. He can't move forward until he finds answers.
Matt is a very likable character and very soon you find yourself rooting for him and his quest for truth.
I loved having a first hand look into the Iraqi War, The soldiers and The civilians. It gave me better understanding into the relationships that have been built between the Iraqi people and soldiers and the politics that rule both their worlds.
My 16 yr old saw me reading this book and became interested in reading it for his English class. Hopefully he enjoys it as mush as I did.
I added this blurb from Patricia McCormick that I found on
From the Author:
Patricia McCormick(taken from
Sometimes a book begins with a single, unforgettable image.
A few years ago, I had the privilege of working on an unusual peace demonstration─one that united Vietnam vets with recent veterans from the war in Iraq and old-fashioned peaceniks. These unlikely groups were brought together by the American Friends Service Committee, the Quakers.
As a group, we arranged more than 3,600 pairs of combat boots, each one tagged with the name of a soldier who'd died in Iraq or Afghanistan, in a display that was meant to symbolize the real human cost of the war. Nearby, we laid out a pile of civilian shoes to symbolize the uncounted men, women and children who'd died in Iraq.
One pair of shoes caught my eye. It was a pair of sneakers, just the right size for a ten-year-old boy. I instantly saw that boy being shot in the chest, his small body flung into the air from the force of the blast. As much as I tried to forget such a horrific image, I couldn't. And so I spent the next few years imagining how such a thing could happen.
Purple Heart is a fictionalized look at that death, and how two young American soldiers may or may not have been involved in it. It isn't an anti-war book. It isn't a pro-war book. It's an attempt to portray how three children─two eighteen-year-old Americans and a ten-year-old Iraqi boy─have been affected by war.
It's estimated that more than 650,000 civilians have died in Iraq. Because this war has been fought in cities, in and amongst families, civilian fatalities have become the "signature" of this conflict─causing profound moral conflicts for soldiers and profound losses for those families.
I finished this book with as many questions as I had when I started. I came away with a deepened respect for our soldiers, a better appreciation of life in a war zone, and a strengthened commitment to peace. My hope is that readers will, too.

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