Archive for April, 2010|Monthly archive page

Purple Heart by Patricia McCormick

Purple Heart, by Patricia McCormick, is an excellent novel for both young people and adults. Set in present day Iraq, the story is from the point of view of Private Matt Duffy who graduated high school and entered the Army. Duffy finds himself in a hospital in the Green Zone of Baghdad with memory problems of how he came to be there. He wants very much to return to his squad, but there seems to have been an “incident” for which he must be interrogated and he has suffered TBI (Traumatic Brain Damage) which has somewhat scrambled his thought processes. He is allowed a phone call home to let them know he is ok and then another phone call home to let them know he is going back into the field. Military terms which we often hear in newscasts such as RPG, IED, and CamelBak are explained in the context of the story. The characters from commanding officers to the “social worker /psychological evaluator” woman to the Catholic priest chaplain to his best buddy Justin to tough girl / jock of their squad Charlene are well drawn and believable in a few words. Even his sister Lizzie who answers the phone both times he calls and his girlfriend Charlotte are believable although they are mentioned only briefly from time to time. This short book would be excellent reading for those considering entering the military or ROTC or National Guard as well as family and friends of those who are active military. The book is written in memoriam to Army Sergeant Sherwood Baker, Army Specialist Joshua Justice Henry, Marine Lance Corporal Patrick B. Kenny, Army First Lieutenant Neil Anthony Santoriello, and Marine Lance Corporal William Brett Wightman whose families were able to share their stories of their sons and brothers with her. She has also spoken with returning veterans and current military to gain accuracy. The book is not preachy, not saccharine, uses very little gutter language and allows the reader to feel worry and pride in varying degrees depending on the individual reader. I spent less than two hours reading the whole book, but I thought about and I think even dreamed about it for many more hours.

-Anniesse

Prayers for Sale by Sandra Dallas

Prayers for Sale, by Sandra Dallas, continues her career as an excellent storyteller. Prayers is the story of Hennie Comfort and her life in a Colorado mountain gold mining camp during the early years of the 20th century. Told primarily through flashbacks as Hennie tells her stories to newcomer Nit Spindle. At one point in her life, Hennie declared jokingly to her husband that all her prayers had been answered so maybe she needs to start selling hers. Husband Jake makes her a sign and posts it in the yard. Hennie gladly prays for anyone who asks free of charge, but she has one burden on her heart that won’t go away. From the loss of her child, the loss of a husband, and loss of countless friends and neighbors, Hennie bounces back and helps those around her. Ever-busy Hennie and friends quilt and talk and help each other. Sandra Dallas is one of my favorite authors. She does not repeat characters nor connect her novels in any sequence, so the reader can pick up any one and be assured of a great read. My most favorite of her novels were The Persian Pickle Club and The Diary of Mattie Spenser. Others that are still quite enjoyable are The Chili Queen, Buster Midnight’s Café, Alice’s Tulip, and Tallgrass. New Mercies seemed to slip by me, because I don’t remember reading it at all. Give Sandra Dallas a try any time you need a novel about the enduring power of women’s friendship.

– Anniesse