for Purple Heart
by Patricia McCormick
When Private Matt Duffy wakes up in a Green Zone hospital, an image emerges from his cloudy memory of a little Iraqi boy floating through the air. As he recovers from his brain injury, Matt worries that he may have caused the boy’s death. The pain this brings is joined by fear—the penalty for killing an Iraqi civilian can be harsh. But Matt soon realizes that military officers seem eager to put this incident behind them. Matt recovers and rejoins his unit, all the while trying to piece together the truth about what happened. Patricia McCormick manages to acknowledge many truths in this novel, some of them conflicting. While not glorifying the army, she gives dignity to many individuals in it and weight to the varied beliefs of soldiers, which sometimes change over time. She offers a sympathetic portrayal of the Iraqi people, but acknowledges that among them are many who resent the presence of the U.S. military, including insurgents who put lives on all sides in jeopardy. While recognizing the difficult positions of everyone in Iraq at this time, McCormick stays focused on Matt’s experiences and feelings. The authentic tone of her narrative is achieved in part by reflecting a variety of attitudes, including some—racism, sexism, homophobia, and Anti-Iraqi sentiments, among them—that are uncomfortable to read. (Age 14 and older)
CCBC Choices 2010. © Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2010. Used with permission.
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.
Publisher description retrieved from Google Books.