Kirkus Reviews QR Code
PURPLE HEART by Patricia McCormick


by Patricia McCormick

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-06-173090-0
Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Injured, dazed and bewildered from combat, teenager Private Matt Duffy wakes up in the infirmary to receive the prized Purple Heart for his valor in Iraq. He suffers from severe traumatic brain injury, so his memories of his last patrol are broken and hazy at best: He remembers raising the barrel of his gun to the face of an Iraqi boy and his friend Wolf coming to his rescue. McCormick builds the plot subtly and carefully with rich, spare prose. At first readers will feel nearly as disoriented as Matt as he pieces together what happened, but his clarity slowly returns, and both Matt and readers are filled with unease and a sinking dread that he may have killed the boy who haunts his memories. The minor characters are drawn just as humanely as Matt; readers will come to love and respect each young soldier who visits him in the hospital. The author tenderly calculates the guilt and trepidation that infect Matt’s mind, and when he returns to patrol, what he finds on the streets of Iraq will either make him or break him. (Fiction. YA)