4 out of 4 stars
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By Charlie Sheldon
Just before leaving on a camping trip in the Pacific Northwest wilderness, William is surprised to find a granddaughter he never knew existed, now standing on his doorstep in the rain. Her mother is dead, her father’s family needs a break, her grandmother and her new husband are done with her after a short week, so now Sarah is meeting her Native American grandfather.
William and his daughter Myra decide to take Sarah on the camping trip, although they have doubts. Sarah at first is complaining of the hike and rainy conditions, but shows her determination to continue. Well, until she falls in the river and is soaked. She drops her backpack and runs away but Myra runs after her and carries her back to the campsite over her shoulder. Myra then tells the story of how much she had complained on her first hike years before, which made Sarah proud of herself. “She is ornery, but out here, being ornery helps,” says Myra.
The story gets very interesting when Sarah takes an old artifact (an atlatl, a dart thrower) from William’s pack and leaves with it during some bad weather. She is not found for 8 days. Injured and almost comatose, Sarah is a changed person. She shares with the group what happened while she was gone – a vision of a past life. Sarah retells her story to the new grandfather and aunt, from following an old (now extinct) bear to being named Strong Heart for her courage and tenacity as she traveled by canoe across the open seas and coastal waters to a new home. Her amazing experience rings true and evidence supports its authenticity in the coming months.
The emerging story about the Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest and their legends melds with theories of the origins of the first humans long, long ago in a fascinating tale. I would rate this novel STRONG HEART at 4 out of 4 stars as it is well written and well edited, with a wonderful story of humans and our possible history. It was hard to put this book down – the more I read, the more compelling the story became. The author is obviously an expert in seafaring, the Pacific Northwest Native Americans, and the saga of humans crossing the land bridge many thousands of years ago. Fact and fiction are woven together in a beautiful story of family, courage, and nature.
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