Purple Heart

Purple Heart


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When Private Matt Duffy wakes up in an army hospital in Iraq, he's honored with a Purple Heart. But he doesn't feel like a hero.

There's a memory that haunts him: an image of a young Iraqi boy as a bullet hits his chest. A little boy who'd been Matt's friend. And Matt can't shake the feeling that he was somehow involved in his death. But because of a head injury he sustained just moments after the boy was shot, Matt can't quite put all the pieces together.

Eventually Matt is sent back into combat with his squad-Justin, Wolf, and Charlene-the soldiers who have become his family during his time in Iraq. He's counting on his buddies to help find out the truth. But in combat, there is no black and white, and Matt soon discovers that the notion of who is guilty is very complicated indeed.

National Book Award Finalist Patricia McCormick has written a visceral and compelling portrait of life in a war zone, where loyalty is valued above all, and death is terrifyingly commonplace.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781449810535
Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC
Publication date: 05/06/2010
Age Range: 14 - 17 Years

About the Author

Patricia McCormick is a former journalist and a two-time National Book Award finalist whose books include Cut, Sold, Never Fall Down, The Plot to Kill Hitler, Sergeant Reckless: The True Story of the Little Horse Who Became a Hero, and the young readers edition of I Am Malala. Patricia lives in New York. You can visit her online at www.pattymccormick.com.

What People are Saying About This

Bob Woodruff

“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.”

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Purple Heart 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 62 reviews.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Going to war wasn't a first choice for Matt Duffy, but it seemed like the most sensible. He hadn't done that great in school, so college for him didn't really make sense. On the other hand, his little sister was a good student, and joining the Army would provide the necessary funds to send her to college when the time came. Whatever his reason for joining up, Matt found himself in the middle of Iraq doing the patriotic thing for his country. Even though they warned the young soldiers during basic training, he was surprised by the heat, the noise, and the people. There were slow days with routine missions; welcome days after some of the scary attacks Matt had witnessed. Recently, they'd lost their squad leader, a fellow named Benson. Amazing that this fact is one of the few things Matt can remember as he wakes up and finds himself in a hospital, answering questions from a man in scrubs standing at the foot of his bed. When Matt begins to ask questions of his own, he learns that when he and his partner, Justin, followed an insurgent into a dead-end alley, there was an explosion and he suffered a TBI (traumatic brain injury). With the exception of a weakened right leg, everything else seems to be in working order. Doctors are prescribing rest and saying he'll be back with his unit in no time. With time to think, Matt is trying to remember just exactly what happened. As events of the attack begin to come back to him, he realizes he may have been responsible for something terrible. How can he bring back the memories - and does he really want to remember? Patricia McCormick shares the life of an American soldier in Iraq. YA novels dealing with the Iraq War are beginning to appear on bookstore shelves, and PURPLE HEART offers readers a chance to experience the war through the eyes of a young soldier trying to make sense of why he is fighting and whose lives he is effecting in this controversial war. McCormick reveals not only the point-of-view and mindset of American troops, but also a glimpse of the life of the regular Iraqi citizen trying to cope in a country at war. Teens thinking about military service, teens that have family and friends stationed in Iraq, or teens just curious about the distant place they hear about on the news will all benefit from and appreciate the service and story of Matt Duffy.
Sean94 More than 1 year ago
The book, Purple Heart, captivates your attention not only on the plot but also the way in which it is told. Patricia McCormick not only focuses your reading on the many aspects of war but also, the drama that goes along with being in battle. I think the author could have added e a little bit more detail about the action and more detailed flashbacks to the alley where Matt was wounded and killed the little boy. Also McCormick could have focused more on the fact that Matt wanted to recover faster from his injury. I think that Patricia could have added another chapter at the end to extend on the story a little bit more. The author did a great job describing the relationship between Matt and the psychiatrist. She also could have gone into more detail about where the hospital was exactly in Sadam's palace. Over all my rating for this book would be an eight point seven.
JohnSherian4 More than 1 year ago
Purple Heart is a wonderful book that keeps you hooked the whole way through. Its based on the men and women who serve in Iraq. Many of the soldiers in Iraq were are yet teenagers when this war began. What they and the children of Iraq are experiencing is not a political issue-it is a human issue. Purple Heart is a visceral and affectiong portrait of their world. I highly recommend this book. Though Patricia McCormick does use some strong laungage at many times it show the realism that goes on every day in Iraq.
sexy_librarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a good look at a side of war not many teens are exposed to, the uncertain, frail side of relationships, brotherhood, and family. It's not all about the fighting in this book, which is told from the point of view of a wounded soldier, trying to remember just how he was wounded in the first place. It keeps the reader engaged as we remember with him, and it is a quick read, good for leisure or a long trip. In general, I personally felt that it could have been longer, and a little better written, but the story is a good one, one that everyone should be exposed to at least once in their life.
Heatherreader on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Shows trauma of war, reality of soldier interactions without being vulgar. Great for discussion, shows both sides of a situation without saying what is the right thing to think.
KarenBall on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Private Matt Duffy wakes up in an army hospital in Iraq, with a traumatic brain injury -- think massive, massive concussion from being near an explosion. Matt is awarded the Purple Heart, a medal given to soldiers who are injured in battle, and something usually associated with heroism. He doesn't feel very heroic, mostly because he can't really remember what happened, and he has weird memories that he thinks are part of the events of that day... but they don't make sense and he can't figure out what they mean. As Matt works to put the pieces together with the doctors and psychologists, he decides he has to get back to combat with his unit (Charlene, Justin, and Wolf). Matt isn't quite up to combat, and fear overwhelms him as he worries if he'll be able to pull the trigger again when he has to. This is a complex story of guilt, loyalty, and trauma in a war zone where death occurs all too frequently for soldiers and for civilians. 8th grade (language and violence).**saw the paperback cover this past week(6/3/2011) and did NOT like it. The hardcover jacket is MUCH better.**
WarriorLibrary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Really shows how it is to be a wounded soldier.
TigerLMS on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Private Matt Duffy wakes up in Sadam Hussein's former palace, which has been converted to a war hospital. Duffy isn't sure what happened to him, although he comes to learn soon enough that he's suffered TBI, or traumatic brain injury, from an explosion that killed an young civilian Iraqi boy. The army is ready to ship Duffy back to his unit as soon as he's well enough to hold a rifle and walk, but Duffy struggles to recall everything that happened. He's fairly certain that he had something to do with the boy's death. Author Patricia McCormick tells a hearbreaking tale of war in a very human way, and in a relatively short space. Highly recommended for reluctant readers at the high school level.
ChristianR on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Matt is a soldier in Iraq. He's just been injured and can only remember bits and pieces of what happened, but he's worried that he's to blame for an Iraqi boy's death. The reader gets an idea of what a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) does to a person, as well as how soldiers deal with, or avoid dealing with, the fallout of combat situations where the line between right and wrong is murky. The books follows him from his recuperation in the hospital to his return to his unit (even though he's clearly not recovered from his injuries -- while the medical staff was hesitant to discharge him, he was very motivated to convince them he was healed) and their patrols in the city of Baghdad. It's fascinating to learn about their daily life and job duties as well as their camaraderie and conflicts. Although I haven't had direct experience with war, the book feels authentic to me. The author did a considerable amount of research and spoke at length with soldiers and family members of soldiers killed in the war I really appreciated that there were very few good guys and bad guys, just people trying to do a job or make a living.
59Square on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Merideth says: Matt doesn't remember much when he wakes up in the hospital. He knows he's in Iraq, that he's a solider, that he has a mom and a girlfriend back home; but how he got hurt is a mystery. A buddy tells him he saw the business end of an RPG, and the doctor tells him he has a traumatic brain injury. All this means to Matt is that he can't think straight. In trying to remember what happened to him, he remembers Ali, one of the street kids who hang around the American soldiers, and Matt begins to think he might be responsible for Ali's death. I liked this book, and thought McCormick did a good job of getting the voice of Matt right. What struck me, old lady that I am, is how damn young Matt and his buddies sounded. Matt is a stand up guy, and his confusion and anguish over his role in Ali's death is very moving. The ending of this story, while heartbreaking, felt a little rushed, but all in all, a satisfying read.
gomesd13 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
¿Purple Heart¿ By Patricia McCormick is about a man named Matt Duffy who is 18 in the US army. He is on a mission and then an RPG struck where he was and sent him into the air and hit his head. When he awoke he didn¿t remember what happened or anything. He couldn¿t move at all and if he moved an inch, unbearable pain would come to his neck and lay him back down. His team comes and supports him and is happy that he isn¿t completely mangled. Then through the whole book he tries to remember what happened, who did it, and why. It is a great book and is hard to put down, I definitally recommend reading this book. This book is 208 pages and is great.
stephxsu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
18-year-old Matt Duffy wakes up in an American-run hospital in Iraq with a bad headache, a limp, a Purple Heart, and no recollection of how he had gotten there. As he struggles to recover, both physically and mentally, Matt begins to see flashes of what happened the night before his hospitalization, images that don¿t seem to match up with the accounts his friend Justin gives him.When Matt returns to his friends, he must deal with his confusing feelings of guilt, and the realization that nothing is ever black and white in tragedy¿No one is better at tackling tough topics than perhaps Patricia McCormick, and PURPLE HEART joins the ranks of SOLD and CUT as strikingly sad, impossible to put down. If it doesn¿t leave you crying, PURPLE HEART will at least make you ache for the difficult positions these soldiers are placed in.Young soldiers have rarely played a major role in modern YA lit, and so Matt Duffy is a refreshing character who lives up to his groundbreaking role in literature remarkably well. Matt and his comrades display all the vulnerabilities that we never even realized soldiers will have: gun-shyness after a traumatic event, the inability to make quick and easy decisions, and bravado that masks the very real fear of dying.McCormick¿s language is alternately simple and lyrical, causing us to feel as if we are floating in another, fantastical world while simultaneously grounding us in harsh reality. Through Matt¿s eyes we can notice the smallest details and see how they would affect a young soldier. In the end, what stands out to me about this novel are the little things: the warbling singing voice of a woman on the radio, the rhythmic up-and-down of a yo-yo, Halo video games. The beauty of McCormick¿s writing is that, now, these simple images, these sensory details, will forever remind me of the horrors of war.PURPLE HEART is a short read¿barely 200 pages¿but it is by no means an easy read for anyone. And yet hardly has a book been needed to be read more. With war still such a big part of our society, we have needed a book like this for a long time. PURPLE HEART should be a must-read to open one¿s eyes towards the complexities of war.
kayceel on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Matt wakens in a hospital in Baghdad unable to remember the events that put him there. As he rcuperates from a brain injury sustained from proximity to an RPG, he tries to remember how he got in the alley he keeps seeing in his dreams, and how his Iraqi friend, young Ali, is involved.I had a hard time feeling connected to this character. MAtt spends much of his time trying to focus and remember, and myabe that why, but I felt distanced from him. McCormick does a good job illustrating how young these men and women are, fighting for their lives in one moment, playing in silly string battles the next.As for the story of Ali, I felt that in the end, McCormick cheats with where she puts the blame for the event that haunts Matt. No consequences really unsettle me and seems very unfair...This would be good for reluctant readers (and male readers), and would make for an interesting book discussion.
EdGoldberg on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In Purple Heart, Patricia McCormick has tackled another serious issue: the trauma of war. Private Matt Duffy, an American soldier in Iraq, wakes up to find himself in a military hospital. He¿s not quite sure how he got there or why. Dr. Kwong tells him he¿s got a possible TBI, Traumatic Brain Injury, but Matt has no clue what caused it. He later learns from Justin, his squad mate and buddy, that he was ¿on the business end of an RPG [rocket propelled grenade]¿. Matt has no memory of the incident.Matt is awarded the Purple Heart for wounds sustained in combat. The officer who gives him the medal says ¿Your mission now, son, is to get better. Get better---and get back out there.¿ (Reviewer¿s note: While, as a non-soldier, I find this sentiment unfeeling, apparently many soldiers do want to go back to their squad as soon as possible.) Purple Heart takes you through Matt¿s experiences in the hospital, his attempts to remember what happened and his experiences back out in the field. It probes his mind regarding his changing attitudes towards the Iraqi people, his fellow soldiers and even life back home. Readers will live in Matt¿s head and feel his emotions and uncertainty. McCormick has a reputation for her insightful, gritty books. If you haven¿t read Cut or Sold, you must. Her language is not flowery. It is down to earth. Her stories are compelling and riveting. She invites you into the heads of the characters. The action is realistic and you envision yourself in the story as a bystander. Her books are powerful.You¿ve heard me say that there are certain authors whose books must be read. Patricia McCormick is one. Read Purple Heart. That¿s all there is to it.
JRlibrary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Although this is a book written about a topic not usually tackled in young adult literature, and thus one which should have a place on the shelves automatically due to its lack of competition, I just couldn't love it as much as I wanted to love it. I expected the book to really grab me, and it just didn't. I felt like it took Matt much too long to figure out what had happened, and there was even a moment when I was thinking, "Oh come on already - would you please just put it all together so the book can end?" The only part I really enjoyed was the juxtaposition of what Matt was feeling and going through, and the description of what his girlfriend was experiencing back in high school. The inane, frivolity of high school life really came through loud and clear. Overall, a well written book - it just didn't grab me as I'd hoped it would.
evet on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Amazing insight into how it feels to be a soldier in Iraq. Had to check the author's name to verify that it was a female author as it seemed such a true picture of a young man's reactions to war and friendship. Excellent!
ewyatt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm a big fan of Patricia McCormick's books. This book takes place in Iraq, following Matt after he's been involved in a civilian shooting and experienced a traumatic brain injury. I found the exploration of TBI interesting, demonstrating Matt's struggle for memory and recalling vocabulary. Matt is quickly sent back to his unit where he tries to reintegrate into his unit and face fighting again in a guerilla war where the "enemy" is not always apparent.
Parker_May56 More than 1 year ago
In the book "Purple Heart", the author gets your attention by telling the story in a unique way. The author, Patricia McCormick, uses figurative language to tell the story in a more realistic way. Like when the soldiers talk, they don’t use kid friendly words, they say what you would really here out there. The main character, Matt Duffy, is a soldier in the army that gets TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) while in a firefight. While in the hospital, Matt keeps having flashbacks of an Iraq kid that died the same time he got knocked out. Matt can’t get shake the feeling that he killed the boy. During the first half of the book, Matt is recovering in a hospital in Baghdad, Iraq. There, Matt has trouble remembering what happened before he came to the hospital. So, someone from his squad comes up to talk to him and tells him what happened. I personally like this book because I feel like I can relate to people in the army because most of my family is in the army. My dad, my two older brothers, and my two cousins are in the army, but luckily none of them got hurt. Purple Heart is a good book so far and I can’t wait to finish tomorrow. I would rate this book an 8.5 out of 10 so far.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I laughed sooo hard at your review. Omg it was the best! Awww good times! Wait what? Idk but anywho, the book sounds really good! Haha tell ya if its good or not!! Bwahaha :D
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There was some boring parts but it was good otherwise.
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