Synopses & Reviews
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.
"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.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
“Gripping details of existence in a war zone bring this to life.” ALA Booklist
“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-its a human issue. PURPLE HEART is a visceral and affecting portrait of their world.” & #151;Bob Woodruff, ABC News
“McCormick builds the plot subtly and carefully with rich, spare prose.” Kirkus Reviews
“In this suspenseful psychological thriller…McCormick raises moral questions without judgment and will have readers examining not only this conflict but the nature of heroism and war.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)
About the Author
Patricia McCormick, a two-time finalist for the National Book Award, is the author of five critically acclaimed novels: Never Fall Down
, an unforgettable story of a boy solider who defied the odds to survive the murderous regime of the Khmer Rouge; Purple Heart
, a suspenseful psychological novel that explores the killing of a ten-year-old boy in Iraq; Sold
, a deeply moving account of sexual trafficking; My Brother's Keeper
, a realistic view of teenage substance abuse; and Cut
, an intimate portrait of one teenager's struggle with self-injury.
Her books have earned many honors: Never Fall Down was a National Book Award finalist in 2012 and a New York Times Notable Children's Book of 2012; Sold was named one of Best 100 Books of the Year by Publishers Weekly and was selected by the American Library Association as one of the Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults in 2006. Cut was an ALA Best Book for Teenagers. McCormick was named a New York Foundation on the Arts fellow in 2004.
She is a graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and lives in Manhattan.