The stage for the book is set when Private Matt Duffy wakes up in an Iraq army hospital.  According to the doctors, he is suffering from Traumatic Brain Injury, or TBI.  One of the first things that occurs in the book is Matt is awarded with the Purple Heart, for wounds sustained in combat, giving the book its name.  However,  through his clouded brain, one consistent memory continues to surface.  It is of a young boy being shot.  Matt doesn't know what to make of it, and as he begins to learn and remember more, he begins to suspect that he killed the boy, and the notion haunts him.  According to Justin though, a member of his squad, right after the incident an RPG (rocket propelled grenade) hit the wall next to Matt, resulting in the hospitalization and a case of TBI.  He continues to gather new information, making lists of what he knows and doesn't know, and eventually gets sent back out into combat, meeting up with his squad, Wolf, Charlene, Figueroa, and Justin.  There is a cease fire in progress, so there isn't much action, and most of the squad is just lazing around.  However, things aren't quite the same, and the memory of the boy still bugs Matt daily.  Readily noticeable is that Justin seems to be acting a little out of place.  Matt ignores it for the most part though.  One day, they are patrolling what they call the Al-Hikma Mosque sector, and Matt realizes that where he is standing is only a block away from the alley where the boy was shot.  He leaves to investigate, telling Charlene to cover for him.  As he moves, he continues to see telltale clues of the battle going on when Matt and Justin were in the alley, like the RPG crater in a wall.  He wanted to see the spot where the boy, who he recently discovered had the name Ali, had died.  He also knew that he and Justin were the only members of his squad in that alley at the time.  He finds a bullet hole, proof that the incident was real, but continues to investigate.  Suddenly, he sees a window with a tattered curtain, that has a perfect shot at where Ali would have been.  He also recalls that Ali would have to have been shot from that window judging by the angle at which his body fell.  That window was where Justin was positioned.  Matt suddenly realizes that that was why Justin was acting strange, and that he did not kill the boy.  Matt returns to the squad, and they leave.  Another day out on patrol at the market, as Matt and Charlene, his partner, are walking around, the world suddenly explodes around him.  He sees Charlene get hit by shrapnel, and is thrown to the ground by the blast.  Matt goes over to Charlene and sees that she is dead.  Chaos again erupts as a secondary attack begins, and Matt runs to meet up with his squad.  He finds that Wolf is dead as well.  Justin finally admits to killing the boy as the scene calms down and they try to handle a wound.  Justin also tells Matt that the boy was a spotter for the sniper they were trying to deal with, not an innocent.  After that, the deaths of Wolf and Charlene are dealt with, and the book is concluded.

Historical references

Purple Heart includes a few historical references, due to it being historical fiction (a fictional story based on a factual event).  Mainly these references are to the Iraq war, a war beginning in 2003 and "the American combat mission" ending in 2010.  It was a war between the United States, allied with the United Kingdom, against Iraq.  Here are a few links with detailed information about the war:



Review, Opinion, and Theme

Purple Heart is a well written story that deserves praise.  The book provides information about the war while also conveying a masterful plot that keeps you reading.  I would give it an 8/10.
Most books, even factual or fictional but based on fact, have a few distinct themes that the book highlights.  In Purple Heart, these themes are not too hard to locate.  The events center around the terrible likelihood of death in the war, the sadness of losing something loved, and also undying loyalty and a sense of honesty and trust.

Purple Heart is a great book, and worth the time to read.

Max L.