I have read several war memoirs in recent years, and one young adult book (that I can remember) about a soldier returning from Iraq, dealing with an injury (Bull Rider by Suzanne Morgan Williams), but up until now I had not read a book set in Iraq aimed at teen readers.
I absolutely love Patricia McCormick's book, Purple Heart.
The soldiers in Iraq seem like real people - the type of guys I went to high school with who might have enlisted in a war. Matt decides to enlist because he has grown up with a single mother and there is no money for college. His choice to join the army will allow his sister, who is a scholar, to attend college. While he develops friendships with the guys in his unit, he also attempts to maintain a relationship with a girl back home. Reading her letters about the stress of a biology quiz it was easy to see how little their lives had in common - one of them was worried about grown-up things, while the other was still living a carefree life.
When Ali, a Iraqi orphan, is killed in gunfire that Matt is a part of, Matt has to do a lot of thinking and remembering, despite how hard it is. Much of Matt's memory of this event has been forgotten - and he tries desperately to recover these memories to uncover what really happened to Ali. However, even when Matt thinks he knows the truth, there is more to the story.
McCormick's book is able to show the realities of war, the fear that many soldiers face, the struggle to serve their country, and the camaraderie that develops among soldiers.
Highly recommended for young adult readers, a great book for girls or guys - very enticing to the reluctant male reader.
Visit Patricia McCormick's website.