4 out of 4 stars
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The book, Strong Heart by Charlie Sheldon, introduces the reader to a riveting tale of the way a family situation is dealt with in a very unusual manner. The setting of Indian people in the Northwest is used to help a troubled young girl who experiences the impact of her heritage on her life while unwittingly leading others to realize the value of listening to tales from the past.
William, Tom, and Myra are family members who take Sarah, a troubled teenager, on a previously planned camping trip into the wilderness of Olympic National Park in Northwest Washington State. The journey involves physical difficulties; they tell stories around the campfire; and, experience some startling events. Sarah turns out to be the one who benefits the most from the family adventures.
Sheldon brilliantly combines the story of a growing teenager with another story about ancient Indian travels and society. I like his descriptions of contemporary and ancient people with their beliefs and frustrations with cultures that are both familiar and unfamiliar. I like the Indian lore and wilderness travel stories. I like the way modern and ancient cultures successfully link together in the storyline. I appreciate the way the plot and subplots work together to produce a desire on the part of the reader to keep turning pages.
There is nothing about this book that I dislike. The writer does everything well and with excitement. The pace moves along at a walking speed since walking takes up a good amount of time in the story.
The perspective of the book includes insights from both young and old about the world in general and the wilderness in particular. The author honors Indian culture by allowing their mores to flow in and out of the character’s actions. The dialogue is crisp and relevant. The writer uses the structure of the story to allow the reader to think as well as participate. Subplots add to the color and tone of the tale. The maps at the beginning of the book help the reader appreciate distances involved in the story. Descriptions of mountains, streams and even storms are vivid and colorful.
I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. I recommend the book to young readers who wonder what it would be like for a teenager to go on a wilderness journey. I recommend the book to adult readers who will relate well to the way the writer treats grandparents, antagonists, and friends. More than a wilderness adventure, the book is good in bringing out the value of traditional knowledge in a world where scientific facts sometimes overshadow reality itself.
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