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Walter's Purple Heart [Kindle Edition]

Catherine Ryan Hyde
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (99 customer reviews)

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Book Description

"Hyde has a sure touch with affairs of the heart." -Publishers Weekly

"Thanks to Catherine Ryan Hyde's unwavering brilliance, 'Walter's Purple Heart' is a clear-cut gem." -Kelly Milner Halls, The Denver Post

From the bestselling author of DON'T LET ME GO and PAY IT FORWARD: First published by Simon & Schuster in 2002, WALTER'S PURPLE HEART is a flight of sheer imagination: the story of a love affair that spans two lives, two incarnations--and the many repercussions of a young life cut short by war.

Michael Steeb is an aimless twenty-one-year-old pot farmer in Central California in the 1980s. He has no real plans or interests...until the day he connects with memories of a life that seems to belong to someone else. That "spirit" is Walter, a young American soldier killed in World War II.

Michael's task is the near-impossible: to lead Walter's family to closure and peace, to deliver the real truth behind Walter's Purple Heart, and to somehow achieve the forgiveness absent for so many years so Walter can move on. Michael sets out to find Walter's best friend Andrew, and Mary Ann, the fiancée Walter left behind. Mary Ann recognizes Walter in Michael immediately. But Andrew sets out to prove that Michael is the worst sort of con man.

Narrated in large part by Walter from beyond the grave, WALTER'S PURPLE HEART is a fast-paced war drama and a deeply felt romance, with a unique twist on the prospect of multiple lives. Catherine Ryan Hyde paints an enduring portrait of a life prematurely lost, and the endless ripples of consequence to those who loved him, in a microcosm that sheds light on the true gravity of war.

"Hyde is a remarkable, insightful storyteller, creating full-bodied characters whose dialogue rings true, with not a word to's compelling enough that readers may find themselves finishing it at a single sitting." -Library Journal

This "Classic Catherine" Anniversary Edition includes a new Author's Note by Catherine Ryan Hyde.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Though the much-hyped movie version of Pay It Forward sank into box-office doldrums soon after its release, Hyde still soars, turning out another heartwarming if melodramatic tale. In her fourth novel, the eponymous Walter is dead, killed by a Japanese sniper at Guadalcanal in 1942. Forty years later, his spirit comes back and declares, "Nobody in this story is going anywhere without me." By that, he means his high school sweetheart, a wartime buddy, and the very confused California marijuana farmer he chooses as his earthly host. Twenty-one-year-old pot enthusiast Michael Steeb unexpectedly meets Walter's spirit one day while fooling around with a Ouija board. Michael freaks out, and it takes Walter some time to convince Michael that his spirit is real and that Michael must help him unravel a 40-year-old mystery. Michael and Walter finally become friends, and Walter sends Michael to New Mexico to locate his wartime sweetheart, Mary Ann, and his old army buddy, Andrew. They have been married 38 years and each has powerful memories of Walter, but Walter has a few hard questions he wants to ask them. It's a bit disconcerting when Michael, channeling Walter, romances the 60-something Mary Ann, but the power of human emotion in its purest form wins out over physical barriers. Though she doesn't skimp on the schmaltz, Hyde has a sure touch with affairs of the heart. (Apr. 10) Forecast: It's hard to say whether the big-screen fate of Pay It Forward will help or hinder Hyde's latest, but her higher profile will likely attract at least a few extra readers.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School-Reincarnation is at the core of this story that unfolds through the eyes of four characters. Walter was a soldier in World War II who died during battle and whose spirit is not ready to leave Earth. Andrew is Walter's best friend, and the one who convinced him to enlist in the war. Michael is his reincarnation, who 40 years later at the age of 21 is an aimless pot farmer in California. Finally, there is Mary Ann, Walter's fiancee, who married Andrew. One evening, Walter awakens Michael's perception of his former self by communicating with him through a Ouija board and asks for help with some unfinished business that he left behind. If the novel's premise seems complicated in soap-opera-like proportions, it is. Hyde, however, is a masterful storyteller. Thoroughly engrossing, the book does not allow for skipping a single page as she keeps the momentum up by surprising readers with new details about Walter's life throughout the story. They add to the mystery of why the young man's spirit remains earthbound and keep readers guessing about what it will take for him to cross over to the other side. Both sentimental and heartwarming, this novel delivers all the ingredients for a day of leisure reading.
Julie Dasso, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 395 KB
  • Print Length: 306 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B009XNMG4S
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,949 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
With "Pay It Forward" (2000 ) Catherine Ryan Hyde displayed her talent for insightfully portraying human emotions. She underscores that gift with "Walter's Purple Heart" in which she not only tugs at heartstrings but deftly plays them while building to a poignant crescendo.
Related in alternate narrative voices, this is the story of a love unfulfilled and a life unfinished. We meet Michael Steeb, a young California pot farmer, an unambitious fellow who plays the sax and lives in an almost built farmhouse.
When unexplainable events occur, Michael turns to a Ouija board for answers. Instead of answers he meets Walter, the spirit of a young soldier killed some 40 years earlier. But in this case death isn't the end, as Walter explains, "Did you think I was gone? No chance of that. If death was the end of me, this story would be over."
It takes time and persistence for Walter to convince Michael that they are one and the same, that Michael is the reincarnation of Walter. Michael is conflicted enough without two personalities jousting within him, and Walter is unable to move on until some tough questions from his short life are answered.
Therefore, Michael reluctantly sets out for New Mexico to find Andrew, Walter's best high school friend and army buddy and Mary Ann, the fiancee who promised to wait. Now, Walter has promised Michael that he will know what to say when he finds Andrew. Not so. Not only is Michael dumbstruck but he finds that Mary Ann and Andrew have been married for 38 years.
"I can't believe you did it, Andrew," Michael snaps, "You married my girl."
Andrew thinks Michael is either crazy or a conman. Perhaps both.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as her previous work March 26, 2002
I came across Pay It Forward, one of Hyde's earlier novels that was made into a movie, by accident one day and thought I'd give it a shot. I liked it. It had some flaws, but it showed a certain psychological slant that I appreciated in a writer. It seemed to me that Catherine Ryan Hyde was able to place characters in real, honest, tough life dilemmas and bring them out of it with some diginity and, more importantly, a strong sense of optimism and strength despite what they've been through. I wanted to read more.
Within weeks I had read her earlier works, Funerals for Horses and Earthquake Weather. Quite honestly, Earthquake Weather is one of the best collections of short stories I've ever read. And Funerals is very convincing in its depiction of family abuse and is, IMO, eloquent in its symbolism, mythology and spirituality. They both confirmed my first impression: Hyde's writing is both optimistic and realistic and can be, at times, almost soothing to the soul. I was beginning to think that Catherine Ryan Hyde could do no wrong.
Well, I was wrong. Electric God, Ryan's last book before Walter's Purple Heart, while having many of the earlier positive elements, had several fatal flaws, not the least of which was a central male character who was hard to love -- a man who could have come right out of a bad romance novel. You know the type: Bad boy who needs to mend his ways and secretly has a heart of gold, if only a woman would help him.
Now we have Walter's Purple Heart. As a fan of Hyde's first three books (Horses and Earthquake hit a very deep nerve with me), I'm disheartened to see her work get worse and worse.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars With Compassion September 3, 2002
Catherine Ryan Hyde has brought you to the feeling that each author tries to achieve. Her characters have been so fully developed that you can relate in some way to all of them.
The feeling of love that Walter makes you proud to feel, is a real winner. Let yourself become one of the people and then you will become another and finally you will fill all the shoes.
This book will make you feel so wonderful, and will add to your faith in yourself.
This should be at the top of the best seller list.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Language of Undying Love May 24, 2002
In Catherine Ryan Hyde's last two novels (Pay It Forward, Electric God), she demonstrated her prowess in understanding human emotions and her brilliant use of the english language. In her newest novel, "Walter's Purple Heart", she cements her domination as an incredible storyteller and translator of the language of undying love.
"Walter's Purple Heart", a symbol for the love one man holds as a bright, shining beacon of hope, even after his own death, presents the reader with an interesting premise. Not unlike "Ghost", and reminiscent of "The Bridges of Madison County" in tone and flavor (only much, much better written), "Walter's Purple Heart" resonates with poetry and brilliance.
Walter is killed in Guadalcanal in 1942, but his soul is restless. It seems that he cannot "cross over" and leave his love unspoken for Mary Ann...nor his death a mystery for his best friend Andrew. He enlists the (at first) unwilling aid of Michael, a somewhat paranoid marijuana farmer in California (what other kinds are there?). By giving Michael bizarre dreams of his horrific and untimely death, Walter draws Michael into his reasons for returning, and urges him (or perhaps threatens him is more apt) to find his childhood sweetheart and his former best friend.
"How will I know what to do once I find them?" Michael asks.
"You'll know," Walter assures him.
Nothing is ever quite that simple. While Mary Ann recognizes Walter in Michael's eyes, and their decades-old relationship sparks anew (despite the glaring difference in age), Andrew is reluctant and bitter, refusing to believe that Walter has returned in the unlikely form of Michael.
With unerring brilliance, Hyde again displays her ability to make a phrase sing with wonder and beauty, drawing the reader in flawlessly and effortlessly.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Have read and thoroughly enjoyed 6 of her books so far and will...
Having been married to a military man I found this book to be unsettling and hard to understand where the author was going. Had to call it quits. Read more
Published 1 hour ago by June C. Therriault
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved Love Loved this one
Loved Love Loved this one, I know it is one I will read again, to me a sign of a good book.
Published 15 days ago by Marian Gray
5.0 out of 5 stars Would recommend to everyone
This is such a unique story and so very uplifting. Would recommend to everyone.
Published 16 days ago by Connie Cole
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I loved this book. Wish I could find more just like it
Published 16 days ago by Chris Lonowski
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful story.
I love the warmth and reality Catherine Ryan Hyde puts into all her books. This is one of my favorites. I will definitely look for other books she has written and read them. Read more
Published 18 days ago by Jackie B.
5.0 out of 5 stars I liked it very much
Though I read constantly, I can't remember ever reading a story told this way. I liked it very much. Catherine Hyde created great characters. Read more
Published 29 days ago by Stick
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very good
Published 1 month ago by Cheryl Wiltse
5.0 out of 5 stars great book, great author
Have yet to be disappointed with a Catherine Hyde novel. Excellent read and a bonus I love ww2 history. You won't be disappointed!
Published 1 month ago by Teresa J. Kent
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good read
Catherine, you did it again! Heartwarming story of love and forgiveness that transcends even death. I have read several of your books and have yet to be disappointed. Read more
Published 1 month ago by janette renteria
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
I enjoyed it, but not as much as other books written by Cathrine Ryan Hyde.
Published 1 month ago by Charleah Allen
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More About the Author

Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of 27 published and forthcoming books, including TAKE ME WITH YOU, WHERE WE BELONG, WHEN I FOUND YOU, WALK ME HOME, SECOND HAND HEART, DON'T LET ME GO, and WHEN YOU WERE OLDER. New Kindle editions of her backlist titles FUNERALS FOR HORSES, EARTHQUAKE WEATHER AND OTHER STORIES, ELECTRIC GOD, and WALTER'S PURPLE HEART are now available. Also available is THE LONG, STEEP PATH: EVERYDAY INSPIRATION FROM THE AUTHOR OF PAY IT FORWARD, her first book-length creative nonfiction.

She has three new novels forthcoming from Lake Union/Amazon Publishing, including THE LANGUAGE OF HOOFBEATS in December of '14 and WORTHY in the summer of '15.

An avid hiker, traveler, and amateur photographer, she has just released her first book of photos, 365 DAYS OF GRATITUDE: PHOTOS FROM A BEAUTIFUL WORLD.

She is co-author, with publishing industry blogger Anne R. Allen, of HOW TO BE A WRITER IN THE E-AGE: A SELF-HELP GUIDE.

Her best-known novel, PAY IT FORWARD, was adapted into a major motion picture, chosen by the American Library Association for its Best Books for Young Adults list, and translated into more than 23 languages for distribution in over 30 countries. The paperback was released in October 2000 by Pocket Books and quickly became a national bestseller. Simon & Schuster released PAY IT FORWARD: YOUNG READERS' EDITION in August of '14. It is suitable for kids as young as eight. A special anniversary edition of the original PAY IT FORWARD is forthcoming in December of '14

LOVE IN THE PRESENT TENSE enjoyed bestseller status in the UK, where it broke the top ten, spent five weeks on the bestseller lists, was reviewed on a major TV book club, and shortlisted for a Best Read of the Year award at the British Book Awards. Both BECOMING CHLOE and JUMPSTART THE WORLD were included on the ALA's Rainbow List, and JUMPSTART THE WORLD was a finalist for two Lambda Literary Awards. WHERE WE BELONG won two Rainbow Awards in 2013.

More than 50 of her short stories have been published in The Antioch Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train and many other journals, and in the anthologies Santa Barbara Stories and California Shorts and the bestselling anthology Dog is my Co-Pilot. Her stories have been honored in the Raymond Carver Short Story Contest and the Tobias Wolff Award and nominated for Best American Short Stories, the O'Henry Award, and the Pushcart Prize. Three have been cited in Best American Short Stories.

She is founder and former president (2000-2009) of the Pay It Forward Foundation. As a professional public speaker she has addressed the National Conference on Education, twice spoken at Cornell University, met with Americorps members at the White House and shared a dais with Bill Clinton.

For more information, please visit the author at

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