Some of the best book reviews I’ve ever gotten.

Last week when I was in Loudoun County Virginia as their One Book Author, I had the privilege and joy of visiting the Loudoun County Juvenile Detention Center. One of the miracles taking place there is that the kids  – smart, funny kids on a journey of self-transformation  – are becoming readers. Some are kids who’ve never before finished a book. Some are kids who were so distracted by the chaos in their lives, they never had the peace and quiet to read. Now, with the gift of time – and the encouragement of their librarian – these kids are reading 2, 3, 4 books a week. And bragging about it.

They’re also giving props. Here are a few reactions to Purple Heart. “McCormick gets down and dirty.”  “Extravagantly details the reality of war.” “McCormick is the shizzle.”

Actually, they’re  the shizzle. As is Loudoun County’s super star librarian Linda Holstlander, who selected the book for the county’s One Book read, and really rolled out the red carpet for me. She arranged for thousands of kids and adults to receive free copies of the book and instigated some very spirited and moving discussion by hosting Eyes Wide Open, an exhibit that documents the human cost of war.

If I learned anything in my visit to Loudoun County – it’s a reaffirmation of the power of reading. Hundreds of kids and parents turned out to discuss the way books change our view of the world, of each other. And the kids at Loudoun County Juvenile Detention Center? They told me that they have a whole new bag of tricks for keeping out of trouble when the return home. At the top of the list: reading.

That’s the shizzle.