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Purple Heart Paperback – February 15, 2011

4.1 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“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))

“McCormick builds the plot subtly and carefully with rich, spare prose.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“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-it’s a human issue. PURPLE HEART is a visceral and affecting portrait of their world.” (—Bob Woodruff, ABC News)

From the Author



Sometimes a book begins with a single, unforgettable image.


A few years ago, I had the privilege of working on an unusual peace demonstration─one that united Vietnam vets with recent veterans from the war in Iraq and old-fashioned peaceniks. These unlikely groups were brought together by the American Friends Service Committee, the Quakers. 

As a group, we arranged more than 3,600 pairs of combat boots, each one tagged with the name of a soldier who'd died in Iraq or Afghanistan, in a display that was meant to symbolize the real human cost of the war. Nearby, we laid out a pile of civilian shoes to symbolize the uncounted men, women and children who'd died in Iraq.

One pair of shoes caught my eye. It was a pair of sneakers, just the right size for a ten-year-old boy.  I instantly saw that boy being shot in the chest, his small body flung into the air from the force of the blast. As much as I tried to forget such a horrific image, I couldn't. And so I spent the next few years imagining how such a thing could happen.
Purple Heart is a fictionalized look at that death, and how two young American soldiers may or may not have been involved in it.  It isn't an anti-war book. It isn't a pro-war book. It's an attempt to portray how three children─two eighteen-year-old Americans and a ten-year-old Iraqi boy─have been affected by war.

It's estimated that more than 650,000 civilians have died in Iraq. Because this war has been fought in cities, in and amongst families, civilian fatalities have become the "signature" of this conflict─causing profound moral conflicts for soldiers and profound losses for those families.

I finished this book with as many questions as I had when I started. I came away with a deepened respect for our soldiers, a better appreciation of life in a war zone, and a strengthened commitment to peace. My hope is that readers will, too. 
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 199 pages
  • Publisher: Balzer + Bray; Reprint edition (February 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061730920
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061730924
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #207,742 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
It is quite a shock to be in a war zone one moment and to wake up in a hospital bed the next, barely able to move.

Matt Duffy, a private in the U.S. Army who is serving in the Iraq War, opens his eyes to a doctor poking his feet with a sharp object, testing his nervous system. He is having flashbacks from the attack, a strange sequence of events that seems to culminate in a child being shot and an explosion right next to him. Matt doesn't remember exactly what happened, just a series of bizarre details from the alley: a stray dog sifting through garbage, a candy wrapper caught on a coil of razor wire, and the resonation of a muezzin call for the mosque. Then a man speaks to him "on behalf of the President of the United States and the citizens of a grateful nation," and he is awarded the Purple Heart for wounds sustained in combat. The man goes on to tell Matt, "Your mission now, son, is to get better." But such an order is easier said than done.

Matt has to relearn to walk and think. He has constant headaches and is medicated for them. One of his legs drags, a permanent injury. The Army doctor assesses him regularly to determine if his other injuries will be permanent as well. His buddy, Justin, comes to visit him in the hospital, and he tells Matt, "You're fine. You've got a black eye, but to tell you the truth," Justin jokes, "it's actually an improvement." Matt discovers that Justin, while under heavy fire, carried him out of the attack zone --- he saved Matt's life. And Justin tells him what he remembers of the attack:

"We got separated...So we end up in an alley...and the bastards jump out of their car and disappear inside a house at the far end of the street. So we jump out of the Humvee and take off on foot. As soon as we do, we start taking fire...
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
On the cover of the copy of Patricia McCormick's novel "Purple Heart" that I read is a close-up photo of a boy's face. Only the eyebrows, dark eyes, and nose show clearly, framed by short dark hair and small sections of his ears. The rest of the photo, in graphic design terms, bleeds off the printed cover. "Never," we are told, "judge a book by its cover," but never have I seen a cover that so aptly sums up the contents. Of course, you need to read the book before you can understand and judge how apt the cover is - but then, in truth, you need to read "Purple Heart" period. Listed as a "young adult" book, it is one of the most adult books about the young men and women we adults send to fight our wars that I have ever read. As a citizen, Ms. McCormick has been an avowed critic of the war in Iraq, but as an artist she explores the war and the youngsters who fight it with a cool eye and a superb ear. Her characters sound like soldiers in the 21st century, worried about each other, worried about the families they left behind, worried about the people they must live and serve among, too. "Purple Heart" concerns itself with a small moment in the war - it's not about a great battle, nor an act of supreme bravery, nor a question of global politics. No, Ms. McCormick focuses on one squad of soldiers as they depend on their courage, their morality, and their need to make nearly instantaneous decisions in action. To one young soldier, Private Matt Duffy, both his sanity and his humanity are at stake as he strives to remember the moment before he was wounded. He faces Kafka-like military bureaucracy and Camus-like self-doubt as his body heals. I will not spoil the story - it's a good story - but I will present my belief that Ms.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
I picked this up from my shelves to read recently mainly because I'd been reading a LOT of more light-hearted novels and so felt I needed something more serious to kind of balance it all out. I've also read a tiny bit of McCormick before ("Cut" and her story in "Up All Night") and was excited to read this new book of hers. This is a great book and is written so well. It's told in third person but mainly focuses on Matt and his story is so compelling. There's a bit of a mystery to it as Matt is trying to put the pieces back together of just what exactly happened to give him the head injury. The first half of the book details his recovery and the second half deals with him getting back out into the war. I don't think I've read a story about a soldier in a war, especially one still going on, and it hits you emotionally, reading about what these soldiers go through. This book opened my eyes and gave me a new-found appreciation for soldiers going into war. The relationships between everyone are clearly defined and the interactions are written realistically. This is definitely a book that needs to be read by everyone, no matter what age.
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Format: Paperback
Sabean Robinson
Purple Heart Book Review

By: Patricia McCormick

10-16-14

Purple Heart Review

10 Debatable questions

1.Why does matt care so much about ail?

2.Does Caroline still care about matt?

3.Is Justin keeping a secrtet from matt?

4.How will Matt and his squad reunite?

5.Will Matt need to be transported to Germany

6.How will Matt get a hold of Caroline?

7.How will francis play a role in matts life

8.Will Charlene join matt if he goes to germany

9.Will Matt ever regain all of his memory?

10.How does Justin feel about matts tbi

15 Vocab words

Hurriedly(page 3)-moving or working rapidly, especially forced or required to hurry, as a person.

Cognitive(page 3)-of or pertaining to the act or process of knowing, perceiving, remembering, etc.; of or relating to cognition

Fatigue(page 5)- a cause of weariness; slow ordeal; exertion

Tepid(page 6)-moderately warm; lukewarm

Scarcely(page 10)-barely; hardly; not quite

Evaluation(page 13)-an act or instance of evaluating or appraising

Obscene(page 17)-offensive to morality or decency; indecent; depraved

Insurgents(page 19)-a person who rises in forcible opposition to lawful authority, especially a person who engages in armed resistance to a government or to the execution of its laws; rebel.

Moonscape(page 20)-the general appearance of the surface of the moon

Delicate(page 22)-fragile; easily damaged; frail

Briskly(page 23)-quick and active; lively

Hemmed(page 25)-to fold back and sew down the edge of (cloth, a garment, etc.
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