THE PURPLE HEART by Marc Talbert


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He understood that everything was messed up and that nothing was going to get better anytime soon."" Luke's father, Patrick, is coming back from Vietnam, but when they meet at the Des Moines airport, Luke's heroic visions crumple: Instead of the laughing, robust figure he remembers, his father--who is recovering from a wound--is bitter, incontinent, and exhausted. Luke finds a Purple Heart in his father's footlocker and pockets it; he drops it while playing a minor prank, but gets it back from his father after a tornado hits town and he overcomes his fear of storms to save an elderly neighbor. Despite the tornado, there's not much drama here; what readers will pick up from the low-key story is the ironic contrast between Luke's fondness for playing war with a bloodthirsty friend (""how many gooks did your dad kill?"") and the heavy reality and evident cost of his father's experience--and also, perhaps, the tension between father and son that builds and, at the end, eases.

Pub Date: Feb. 28th, 1992
ISBN: 0595097715
Page count: 144pp
Publisher: HarperCollins