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Purple Heart

3.8  ·  Rating details ·  2,068 Ratings  ·  422 Reviews
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, Mat
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published September 1st 2009 by Balzer + Bray (first published August 18th 2009)
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Asteropê If you go to the Lexile website and search the title you can find it. See:
It's listed as 760L
Joe e Matt it the main character, Then there is Jason who is a big part of the story line. There are more people in the book but these are the main two.

Community Reviews

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Apr 10, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya, 2011
3.5 stars

18-year old soldier Matt Duffy wakes up in an army hospital in Baghdad. His memories of the events leading up to his hospitalization are spotty at best, he is suffering from TBI - traumatic brain injury. Matt is told that an RPG exploded next to him while he and his partner were pursuing a suspicious vehicle down a dark alley. But private Duffy feels that that is not all. His dreams are filled with the images of a 10-year old Iraqi boy shot through the chest. Matt starts to think he mig
Anne Osterlund
Apr 22, 2011 rated it liked it
Matt can’t remember. Not how he arrived in the army hospital. Or what year it is. Or who won the world series.

Though he misses his unit. He knows he’s in Iraq. He knows he wants to get back to Wolf and Justin and Charlene. He knows he’s a soldier.

But he doesn’t know why the army’s giving him a purple heart. Or why they won’t really ask him questions about what happened in the alley. With the dog with the broken tail. And the kid that floated-up, up, until all Matt could see was his sneakers.

Mar 30, 2012 rated it liked it
3.5 Stars

The brain does some funny things to help protect us. Frustrating, but necessary. Some memories stay with us while others fade and disappear. The idea and science behind it never fails to frustrate and fascinate me. Should some things be forgotten?

Purple Heart by Patricia McCormick jumps right in! Readers are introduced to an injured, groggy, and confused Private Matt Duffy in a hospital bed in Baghdad. He is suffering from traumatic brain injury (TBI), so only hazy dreams and flashes re
Jun 12, 2011 rated it it was ok
Audible Review

2 stars. I know. I just didn't connect with Purple Heart. I was waiting for that emotional connection one disc after another but it failed to evoke any strong emotions from me. I still could not pin point as to what made this experience just two-dimensional and forgettable. The narrator was just okay, his voice rather too mature for an 18-year old teenager. Perhaps that's a factor, perhaps not. It was just lackluster IMO.

Purple Heart starts with Private Matt Duffy, an 18-year old
Nov 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
From an adults perspective the story is weak in most parts, but it's not fair to be too critical of a YA novel, especially one that does give them some perspective of this war. Children who are turning 18 and eligible to join the military were 9 when this this political situation began. I work as a YA librarian and had a 12 year old ask me "what does 9-11 mean?"... :0 ... This was in reference to 9/11/01. It was in fact on 9/11/10 that I was asked. Kids live blindly in their world of Team Edward ...more
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Sally Kruger aka "Readingjunky" for

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
Jun 15, 2010 rated it liked it
I don't like reading books about war, but I feel it's my social responsibilty to try and understand what young men and women go through in these situations. I am glad I read Purple Heart and have come to appreciate the service that Matt Duffy, an 18-year-old young man fighting in Iraq has given our country. Matt is in a Baghdad hospital t recovering from a traumatic brain injury, trying to recall the details and make sense of what happened. Where did the attack come from? Did he really shoot and ...more
Mar 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
"He reached over and took hold of the front of Matt's hospital gown as if he were grabbing hold of him by the straps of his vest. Then he let go and patted Matt on the cheek. 'You were lucky, man.'
'There was a dog,' Matt said.
Justin frowned. 'What?'
'Dog,' said Matt. 'There was a dog.'
Justin drew back slightly. 'Dude, I have no idea what the fuck you're talking about.'
'He was near the... you know, when you throw stuff away..." It was maddening. He couldn't remember the word.
Justin looked away, sc
Tammy Dahle
Mar 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
My Thoughts:
A Middle School Librarian asked me to preview this book before putting it on the shelf for her students. Purple Heart is a book I would have totally judged by it's cover and passed it over. I don't normally seek out books about war. I'm so very glad I had the opportunity to read Purple Heart and experience Patricia McCormick's amazing story.
Purple Heart gives you a chance to experience the War in Iraq from a soldier's point of view. It's not pretty. Matt is laying in a hospital bed
Talar Aroyan
Sep 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ryan Pomerenke
Oct 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Matt, the main character, wakes up in a military hospital with no recollection of the event that got him there. Justin, Matt’s best friend from his unit, comes and explains what happened to him. Matt was informed that him and Justin were chasing a potential threat down an alleyway. Once they were separated from their unit, they were ambushed. An RPG blast hit Matt and caused a severe concussion. As more details from the incident come to light, Matt learns there was a little Iraqi boy that was ca ...more
Dec 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Personnel Response: Right away I knew that this book would be the one that I would not put down. The book had a lot of close relations with the war subject and I thought that it was very exciting book to read. Honestly If I was the one that was being honored by the Army Association with a purple heart that would be one of the best gifts anyone could have received to them personally. My overall personnel response of Purple Heart is that It has very good touching relationships with the real world. ...more
May 08, 2013 rated it liked it
This is on the 2014 Abe list.

I struggle with Patricia McCormick... I absolutely loathed Never Fall Down; it felt appropriated, colonialist. With Purple Heart, once again she's done a lot of research and seems to have immersed herself in interviews with Iraq war vets and family members. She used the 3rd person to flesh out Matt's story of surviving an RPG with traumatic brain injury and his return to the front. And even though I was intrigued by Matt's story and horrified by the deeply layered "
Mar 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
There is a plethora of young adult literature being published of late concerning contemporary warfare, its effects on those left behind,and the impact on those who serve. "Purple Heart" focuses mostly on the ramifications of warfare on the soldiers who fight. Eighteen-year-old soldier, Matt Duffy, wakes up not knowing where he is or what has happened. He is in a hospital in the "Green Zone" in Baghdad, Iraq, suffering from TBI - Traumatic Brain Injury. After receiving a "purple heart" for being ...more
Jaelyn Reeck
Oct 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Personal Response:
I think this book was really good over all. It was a really interesting story about the war in Iraq. Its really interesting how they have the main character, Matt, get hurt in one of the first chapters of the book. Some of the parts in the book were boring, and not very interesting, though.
Plot Summary:
The story was about a squad that had been fighting in the war against Iraq. In one of the first chapters of the book, Matt had gotten hit by an RPG, and was pinned underneath
Oct 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
My overall opinion on the book is that is a pretty good book. There were a lot of parts that made you think and then there were a lot of parts that made you wonder what was going to happen. When the book starts out it seems kind of boring but it gets better throughout the book. The middle part where he is getting questioned and finally gets to go back is my favorite part. The one part that I absolutely hated was the ending. It was one of the worst endings if ever read in my opinion.
If you like w
Dylan D.
Jan 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Grade: Middle School
Reading level: 760 Lexile
Genre: Historical
Main Characters: Private Matt Duffy, Justin, Wolf, and Charlene
Setting: In a War
POV: First Person

When Private Matt Duffy woke up in the hospital, He can remember everything up to he being hospitalized. He is suffering from TBI (traumatic brain injury). Matt is told that an RPG exploded next to him while he and his partner were chasing a suspicious vehicle down a dark alley. Then Private Duffy thinks there is more to this than people a
Henry J.vasquez
I think this book s alright and easy to read. I think it sad how Matt lose his memory and can only remember something. I also hate how his squad Had to leave him in the hospital. I also think something bad might happen to Justin and that letter might been the last thing he hear from him. But so far i like the book and it and easy book to read too, so it might be something you want to look in to.
Jul 24, 2012 rated it liked it
while I didn't love this book, it gave me a small bit insight as to what my cousin went and is currently going through. . .while serving in Iraq he was hit in the head with shrapnel and suffered a very serious TBI. The recovery of an TBI, coupled with combat memories, makes a difficult recovery. The character, Matt, in this book shares his story of a similar situation.
May 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
"Good Soldiers" by Finkel is good prep for this book. Even absent that, the contrast between Matt's reality and what is happening at home is striking. And yes, I cried. I think anyone would. It is a book about the loss of innocence that goes beyond what any teenager should experience, but that unfortunately many of our servicemen do.
Angel Virgos
Oct 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I would recommend this book because it is a good book. The main character named Matt is in a hospital in Iraq and he has a head injury and dosent remember what had happen to him. He got a Purple Heart medal but dosent know why
Feb 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
A very decent tale of soldiers in the current Iraqi war, with empathy for all involved. The book does not take a political position but instead lets you see into the minds of the soldiers who are fighting it for us. The author did several interviews to make it realistic.
Jhoxelin Portillo
Sep 11, 2012 rated it liked it
The book was good. Matt was confused because Justin wouldn't talk with him but they ended up clearing what had happened in the incident. Justin was injured; Two soldiers died.
Jessica Bukowinski
Oct 05, 2011 rated it liked it
Very quick and engaging read
Joe e
Aug 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
This was a very good book, it had really got me thinking about events from earlier in the book.
Edgar Sabalu
Sep 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
It was a great book keeping a story and its conflict pretty clear.
Logan Bartel
Sep 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jack Kemp
Jan 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
At the start of the novel it was apparent that the main character, Matt Duffy, was in for a tough ride. After a terrible tragedy that landed him in a field hospital, he has to find out if he can do the thing he loves most, fight for his country. After being let out of the hospital, he regains his ability to fight next to his brothers. Anything can happen in a war zone. The men in his squad get attacked multiple times throughout the book. Matt Duffy can't stop thinking about a cloudy memory of a ...more
First, let me just say, I can't stand eBooks. I hate reading books on a screen. There. I tried it. No one can say I didn't. And I hated it. My eyes ended up in this weird Magic Eye swaying thing by the time I was done reading, and I only read five chapters at a time. I had afterimages of the white pages burned into my retinas. Ugh. Give me your normal, tree-killing paperback any day over one of these.

No, that mini-rant didn't come from the crevices of my buttocks. This book was an eGalley and th
Jared Linskens
Jan 17, 2017 rated it liked it
The main character, Private Matt Duffley, wakes up in a hospital tent in Iraq. The doctors say that he had been diagnosed with Traumatic Brain Injury, or TBI. This means that Matt has a tough time remembering objects that seem simple like garbage can. One of the big things in this story is that he is awarded the purple heart. The problem is that he can't remember what he did to earn it. One of Matts squad members, Justin, visits him and catches him up on what happened. Justin tells him that they ...more
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Patricia McCormick is a journalist and writer. She graduated from Rosemont College in 1978, followed by an M.S. from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 1986 and an M.F.A. from New School University in 1999. Her first novel for teens was Cut, about a young woman who self-injures herself. This was followed by My Brother's Keeper in 2005, about a boy struggling with his brother's ad ...more
More about Patricia McCormick...
“That first phrase-please bless me, Father, for I have sinned-was so humbling and so total, Matt always felt a kind of absolution as soon as he said it” 5 likes
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