4 out of 4 stars
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Strong Heart is a historical fiction novel written by Charlie Sheldon. The first word of the title is written in capital letters while the next is in small letters. It appears that the author did this to emphasize the moral lesson of the story. Strong Heart is about community ties, history, family, humanity and fighting evil. The story is about a land of magic, history and legend.
The reader is introduced to the hero and the villain within the first three chapters of the book. The characters are on a quest to explore a historic land in a modern day context. The main protagonist is a 13 year old girl known as Sarah. She is an orphan who has been living with her maternal grandmother. Sarah is taken to her grandfather’s house for the summer. Sarah arrives at Tom's place while they were about take a hike in the mountains to view his father’s grave, and to take back an artifact. The hike is the beginning of a thrilling adventure that is narrated simply and skillfully.
My desire to see the relevance of the two poems by T.S Elliot and Carl Jung, that appear at the beginning of the book, kept me turning the pages of Strong Heart. Also, I was intrigued by the author’s presentation of Sarah's strengths and weaknesses. Sarah is indeed a strong character in this book in terms of, her literary part and also her personal traits. The book became more interesting from Chapter Six when Sarah sees an extinct bear that is known to have existed 20,000 years ago. This was the beginning of the major conflict that the main character faces.
Charlie Sheldon's strength regarding the book, is his use of suspense and description to keep the reader yearning for more details. Dialogue has been used effectively to enable the reader to have an idea of the kind of relationship that characters have with one another. The stylistic device that stood out the most to me was the use of 'a story within a story.’ The first story is one that Myra tells Sarah about the marriage of a bear and whale. The other story is Sarah’s take about her journey to The Place People Were. The characters in Sarah’s story are given names basing on their appearance or traits. This makes it easier for the reader to make a distinction between the characters in the main story and those in Sarah’s story.
Readers who like mystery, adventure, archeology, history or hiking, are likely to enjoy reading this book. For being an enjoyable book that I would recommend to a youthful audience, I give Strong Heart 4 out of 4 Stars.
Strong Heart could do better if the chapters preceding Chapter Six are either shortened or removed. I noticed a discrepancy in time when Sarah gets lost for eight days but, according to her story, her trip lasted a month. The author did not attempt to hint to the reader what this meant. Hence, it appears to be an error. I suggest that the book should go through another round of editorial work.
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