Purple Heart

by Patricia McCormick

When Private Matt Duffy wakes up in a Green Zone hospital, an image emerges from... read more

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)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2010

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