Purple Heart by Patricia McCormick
Release Date: February 15, 2011
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Genre: Young Adult
Challenge: 100 Books in 2011
Buy the Book: Amazon
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 his squad—Justin, Wolf, 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.
This book was difficult for me to even pick up, but in the end, I'm glad I did. As a ex-military wife (retired Army), I know all too well the effects of a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and what it does to our soldiers and military personnel. This book was about a private, Private Matt Duffy, who suffers from a TBI when he is "on the business end of an RPG." Matt is only able to remember bits and pieces of the situation that landed him in the hospital, and he believes that he killed an innocent Iraqi child. I don't want to spoil the book so I won't say more than that.
What I do want to say is this... Patricia McCormick interviewed soldiers, their families, and war veterans about the effects of war, life in Iraq, and returning home. She definitely did her research and wrote a book that accurately describes (as much as I personally know from listening to stories) war. The book does not involve politics, hidden agendas, is not swayed by conservation or liberal views. It is simply about the people serving in our Armed Forces. It's their story.
I'd definitely recommend reading this book. It probably gives a much more accurate depiction of war than any news media outlet is going to give you. It's hard to read though. The emotional, mental, and physical demands of being a US soldier are no joke, and McCormick doesn't stray away from giving details that allow readers to understand what our military goes through. If nothing else - read the book so that you might have more compassion and understanding on what these men and women experience. It's only 224 pages.