HarperCollins Publishers|February 7, 2011|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-0-06-173092-4
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. 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 this squad; Justin, Wolfe, and Charlene, the soldiers who have become his family during his time in Iraq. He just wants to go back to being the soldier he once was. But he sees potential threats everywhere and lives in fear of not being able to pull the trigger when the time comes. 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.
Private Matt Duffy woke up in a hospital ward with someone sticking what felt like pins in his feet and legs and asking: “can you feel that, Matt?” Yes, he could feel it and that was a good sign. Panic washed over him as he strained to understand what was going on. He’d heard the doctor say “cognitive problems” and “traumatic brain injury.” He wanted to ask what was going on but the doctor had already left his beside, and he drifted off to sleep.
Next time he woke, he heard: “On behalf of the President of The United States and the citizens of a grateful nation…I award you the Medal of the Purple Heart, for wounds sustained in combat.” Matt didn’t want a medal he just wanted to know what was wrong with him. He felt his mouth flopping open and closed, gulping like a fish, but no sound came out. He then heard: “Your mission now son is to get better and get back out there.” Again, fatigue crashed down on him and he fell back into a thick, hazy sleep as he heard the man’s footsteps echoing across the marble floor as he walked away. Soon enough Matt would find out what happened to him.
Purple Heart is a story about war often “being fought by young people, like the ten-year-old Iraqi boy who finds himself in harm’s way in the story and two eighteen-year-old soldiers who must cope with his death and their part in it. All of them are children under pressures no – adult or child – should ever have to face.”