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Purple Heart
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Purple Heart
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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...
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...
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  • 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.

About the Author-

  • Patricia McCormick is a former journalist and a two-time National Book Award finalist whose books include Cut, Sold, Never Fall Down, The Plot to Kill Hitler, Sergeant Reckless: The True Story of the Little Horse Who Became a Hero, and the young readers edition of I Am Malala. Patricia lives in New York. You can visit her online at www.pattymccormick.com.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from August 24, 2009
    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.

  • AudioFile Magazine Patricia McCormick writes a compelling story about the moral ambiguities of war. Matt Duffy is an 18-year-old soldier who is wrestling with memory loss as he tries to make sense of the events that landed him in the hospital and earned him the Purple Heart. James Colby tells the story with a direct, nonjudgmental delivery. Colby conveys Matt's frustration with the confusion and language difficulties that accompany his traumatic brain injury and believably depicts how he grasps for simple words like "headache'' by giving complex definitions. The story does not delve into political issues but focuses on the cost of war to our common humanity. Chapters are not identified, but pauses that create breaks seem longer than they should be. N.E.M. (c) AudioFile 2010, Portland, Maine
  • School Library Journal

    November 1, 2009
    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"

    Copyright 2009 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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