4 out of 4 stars
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Will I ever fit in? Will anyone ever want me? These thoughts plague young Sarah as she is shuttled from home to home. Her mother dies. Her father travels to Europe and leaves her behind with her grandmother. Her grandmother drops her off at her grandfather’s house.
Tom Olsen is flabbergasted to learn that he has a granddaughter. He is preparing for a trip into the forest. He feels a need to fulfill a promise he made to return an ancient artifact to his grandfather’s grave. Against his better judgment, he decides to let Sarah accompany him on this trip into the woods. After locating the grave a strange thing happens to Sarah. In a fit of anger she runs away, falls into a cave, and travels back in time. Sarah is missing for eight days, but lives a month long experience with an ancient tribe.
The first story takes place in the present. It is the story of Sarah and her dysfunctional family. Tom feels inadequate in his ability to care for a teenage girl. As the story unfolds and they spend more time together, his love for her increases. The second story tells of Sarah’s experiences when she regresses into the past. She relives a hunting expedition with some of the first inhabitants of the continent. As a member of this tribe she is expected to conform to the rules of the leader and contribute when help is needed.
In both scenarios Sarah must prove herself. In the present, she struggles to gain her grandfather’s trust and respect. She wants her grandfather to believe that her stepfather was hurting her. She hopes her drawing will convince her grandfather that she did see a bear that had been extinct for 12,000 years. In the past, she must prove her ability to pull her weight in the tribe. She continues rowing the canoe in spite of great pain and fatigue. She bites her tongue when a male member takes credit for her skillful shooting. In both time periods Sarah shows courage and proves why she has earned the name of Strong Heart.
I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. The author presents the heartwarming story of a young teenager searching for her identity. In a masterful way he parallels the two stories. He shows that searching for identity and acceptance is not something unique to our time period. When hard times come, we can choose to be cowards and see ourselves as victims. Another option is to be like Sarah, and have a strong heart.
The author deserves high praise for the great amount of investigation he has poured into this book. He gives vivid descriptions of the forest and mountain area of the Pacific Northwest, including several maps. There is also detailed information of the first inhabitants that arrived and settled in this area. He shares knowledge of trading routes, hunting habits, tribal hierarchy norms, and spiritual beliefs.
I would recommend this book to people who are interested in primitive American inhabitants and settlements. The descriptions and information given in this book are both interesting and informative. This book would also be of interest to psychologists. I really enjoyed the way the author portrays Sarah’s reaction to her difficult situations. She refuses to let herself be a victim. Sarah shows courage and proves that, in the past and in the present, she has indeed earned the name ‘Strong Heart’.
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