4 out of 4 stars
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Strong Heart by Charlie Sheldon is a fiction novel that mixes magical mysticism, science and the discovery of family heritage. The story tells of Sarah, a 13-year-old girl who has nowhere else to go and Tom, her grandfather, who didn’t know he had a granddaughter until his ex-wife appears on his doorstep telling him he has to take care of her. At the time, Tom is planning a trip to visit his grandfather’s grave in the Olympic Peninsula, along with his friends, William and Myra. His granddaughter’s arrival could not have come at a worse time, but he does not want to cancel the trip and decides to take Sarah along with them. Sarah goes with them unwillingly and complains about everything from the word go.
Tom shows them an object that he took from the park years before, claiming that it is an important part of their history. The story takes a turn when Sarah draws a bear that she claims to have seen, although the others find it hard to believe her as the animal has been extinct for thousands of years. Sarah then disappears, taking the important historical artifact with her. Tom and the others spend days searching for her until she reappears eight days after she went missing. After spending days in silence, she finally tells them her unbelievable tale.
Even though this book is written in third person, Sarah’s story is written in first. The story is interesting and the plot is powerful, integrating science and ancient heritage in such a way that the story flows easily. The reader is not given any back story of the characters in the book, which can be frustrating and confusing in other novels; however, the author gives the reader a chance to ‘get to know’ each character through their struggles and feelings, as well as how they face certain events throughout the book, helping the reader to grow with them. Even with the little detail given by the author, I felt like I knew the characters and felt everything they went through.
It is obvious that the author went to great depths to study the history described in the novel, including different areas of the Olympic Peninsula, the animals that had once lived there, the different stages of the ice ages that affected the area and the fossils that can be found today. The setting of the book was so well described that it makes me want to visit the Peninsula to see it all for myself. The story is engaging and kept me hooked to see what was going to happen next, with an easy flow right up to the end.
The book itself is well formatted and I could not find any grammatical errors throughout it. I give this book 4 out of 4 stars and would recommend it to anybody who enjoys reading historical fiction in the Americas, books about family ties and adventures or anybody else who would enjoy a well-written story. People who enjoy books about mysticism and native heritage should definitely read this story.
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