BOOK REVIEW: “How Can You Mend This Purple Heart?” By Author TERRY GOULD. T.L Gould.
Winner of the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation’s James Webb Award for distinguished fiction
In this riveting first novel, author T. L. Gould draws on his experiences in a military hospital with severely wounded Marines recovering from the Vietnam War. He has created a plain-truth, no-holds-barred narrative, stark in its simplicity, detail, and humor. From dressing changes and morphine drips to off-site forays under a fence and into neighborhood bars and brothels, Gould chronicles the precipitous journey to recovery of the men of Ward 2B: how they learned to walk again, to love again, and to triumph over crippling injuries.
How Can You Mend This Purple Heart is not a story about combat in the jungles of Vietnam. It is a story about boys who returned from combat as men—men who left the better part of their youth, a bit of their souls, and a lot of their flesh in a battlefield on the other side of the world. It’s a story about their longing to recapture the spirit of boyhood and rekindle the optimism and fearlessness of youth. And it’s about their struggle to be whole again—or at the very least, to feel whole. It chronicles a journey of love, redemption, sorrow, and joy; a journey of pain and anger . . . and a journey of hope. But most of all, a journey of the human spirit and its triumph over the most impossible odds.
How Can You Mend This Purple Heart is a tribute to all the combat-wounded veterans of past and present conflicts. May they find the strength to continue their lives’ missions and know that the entire nation is grateful for their sacrifices.
‘How Can You Mend This Purple Heart” does all of those things and more.
Do not read this book if you are looking for bloody scenes of war, they exist, but they exist in the memory of the men who returned from that war torn apart from planted mines.
Do not read this book if you are looking for an easy read of mate-ship. It exists, but in the way of all things cruel and true, the mate-ship grows from shared terror, loss of limbs and shredding of innocence. Once the trust is established it can never be rent apart again.
Do not read this book anticipating only sadness; oh yes … It exists, but in the way of the gallant and often surprising ways men reach out with unspoken need it is tempered with humor.
I closed it with a smile at their kinship: and with hope for their futures.
I closed it with reluctance.