Elementary-school-age Luke is elated when his father returns home after being wounded in Vietnam. However, the boy sees not a conquering hero but an exhausted, silent stranger. Luke learns that his father has been awarded the Purple Heart only when he sees him secrete it in his footlocker. Believing that the medal can explain his father's mysterious transformation, he pockets it as a kind of talisman. But, playing a prank on a neighborhood eccentric, Luke loses the medal--an event that leads to several discoveries. In a cathartic encounter, the lad finally hears the less-than-glamorous truth behind the Purple Heart and regains the father he thought he'd lost. Talbert ( Double or Nothing ; Pillow of Clouds ) again proves his mastery at evoking the turbulence of preadolescence, when so much is felt but so little can be expressed. In few words and with laserlike illumination of detail, he creates a compelling, resonant tale that should appeal beyond the recommended readership. Ages 9-13. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 02/03/1992 Release date: 02/01/1992 Genre: Children's
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