PURPLE HEART by Patricia McCormich (HarperCollins, September 2009) is a slice of life story of a young man stationed in Iraq. As the novel opens, Matt is in the hospital. He was injured by an RPG (rocket propelled grenade) fired in the middle of a street fight. Matt has little memory of what happened before this event due to head trauma. He does have these flashes, though, of a young Iraqi boy (is it Ali?) flying through the air. Matt's injuries do begin to heel to some extent. He is weak and still has some trouble with speech (words escape him from time to time). What is bothering him more than the physical effects, however, are the psychological effects of the street attack and the war he and his fellow soldiers are fighting.
McCormick has to walk a fine line here in order for the book not to fall into an anti-war diatribe. Matt is a young man whose feelings are conflicted. It is through his eyes that readers see the situation in Iraq and understand that there are no easy answers and that guilt and innocence are concepts that do always apply readily in the middle of battle.