Saturday, January 23, 2010

Book Review: Purple Heart


I've loved all of the Patricia McCormick books I've read. This morning, I found that her newest title, Purple Heart, is no exception. I was a little expecting this book to be a bit hoorah, so to speak. But, I was wrong.

Purple Heart starts with a disoriented Matt, a US soldier who has just been struck by an RPG in Iraq. He has only small bits of memories of the attack, but what little he does remember is troubling because it conflicts with what his best soldier friend, Justin, says happened.

I love that McCormick started out her novel this way. Having little understanding of the setting and rituals and normal activities of the Army in Iraq would've made me feel like an outsider as the reader. Because the book starts with a character who has to relearn and work hard to understand what's happening helped ease me into that world. The characters feel real and the setting is chaotic.

I don't think that the Army comes off looking bad in this book. I didn't want this book to be a commentary either for or against war. I was hoping that McCormick would try and walk a sort of neutral line with her plot, and I believe that she did. I think that this makes for a much more powerful and persuasive story because it doesn't read like a preachy anti-war statement or an Army indoctrination. It's great.

I received this book as part of a grant that I wrote to purchase more titles for my male students. It can be hard, being a female teacher, to pick out great reads for boys. I have yet to put it on the free reading shelves in my classroom, but I really feel like this book will appeal to a number of boys in my freshman and sophomore classes. So, kudos to McCormick for another great read!

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