Purple Heart

>> Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Author: Patricia McCormick
Recommended Age: Young Adults
Publisher: Harper Collins
ISBN: 978-0-06-173092-4 
Year Published: 2009
No. Pages: 199
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Main Character Gender: Male
Read & Reviewed by: Brandon 

“You don't remember?”
Matt shook his head. Even that tiny gesture sent pain shooting through his skull.
“It was yesterday,” Justin said. “Remember yesterday?”
Matt tried to remember. Nothing.

Matt woke to find himself surrounded by wounded soldiers. Matt is a private in the U.S. Army serving in the Iraq War. He experiences flashbacks leaving him to wonder how he got there. The only thing he remembers is an Iraqi child dying and getting hit by an rocket propelled grenade. He is awarded the Purple Heart, an award for bravery for wounds sustained in battle. Matt has to relearn to think and walk. He is medicated for his constant headaches. He sees an army psychologist and yet, he still only remembers bits and pieces. He is eventually sent back to his squad but to him, things seem different. Will Matt be able to piece this puzzle together and will he or his squad get blamed for the death of a civilian?

I love how Patricia McCormick filled this book with suspense. There's a surprise on every page. In search for the truth, Matt must rearrange his account of what happened with each new fact he learns and so did I, as the reader. The constant change of place, people and information kept me curious and eager to see how this story unfolded. McCormick's writing is descriptive and the first person narrative enabled me to really experience this story first hand.

I can relate to Matt and his personality, even if he spent most of the book in confusion. I am almost as old as Matt, so I share some similarities. Matt thinks on his feet and is patient with other people.

Purple Heart also reminded me of how awful war really is. It affects not only soldiers but civilians as well. In fact, I learned that the penalty for killing a civilian is 20 years. There are lots of youth fighting in wars all the time, and this novel drives this fact home. It's crazy to think Matt is fighting in the Iraq War yet he isn't even old enough to drink. Another important message was that soldiers are not always wounded physically, but wounded mentally too which can can have even more devastating results.

I rated this book a 9/10 book because the writing is unique and the plot is captivating. Patricia McCormick was a former reporter and she interviewed many soldiers for this book subsequently creating a more authentic read. This book is a quick read, and I'd recommend it to any young adult who likes action and mystery.

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