Review by Gikonyo Caroline -- Strong Heart

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Gikonyo Caroline
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Joined: 07 Jul 2017, 06:30
2017 Reading Goal: 150
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Review by Gikonyo Caroline -- Strong Heart

Post by Gikonyo Caroline » 30 Sep 2017, 07:49

[Following is a volunteer review of "Strong Heart" by Charlie Sheldon.]
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4 out of 4 stars
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They say history repeats itself. I agree but I believe history does not only repeat itself but fights to survive, to be narrated, to be conserved, to be relived and passed on from one generation to the next. History does exactly that in this book albeit taking on different identities and forms.

History repeats itself as Tom and his granddaughter hike and camp on the same trail and park that Tom and his now deceased grandfather Bob-bob had trekked and camped many years ago when Tom was about Sarah’s age. History fights to coexist with modernity as is depicted by Tom and William who are in their fifties and sixties hiking the trial twice despite constant aches and pain alongside the much younger generation represented by Myra, aged twenty nine and Sarah,aged thirteen. Tom and his granddaughter Sarah butt heads as they are often embroiled in conflict spurred by generational gap as is often the case with temperamental, tantrum throwing teens and the older generation.

History battles to survive and thrive as the team of four hike and camp and do so stripped of the modern luxuries we enjoy and take for granted in the name of civilization. Sarah, Myra , Tom and William, clean dishes in the rivers and streams , bathe and wash clothes in the streams. In Sarah’s narration when she had disappeared she ate seals, bears and deer that she and her colleagues shot and killed, they made robes form animal hides, they sealed holes in their canoe where water leaked with moss and seal fat, and rewove sails from back of cedar trees.Don’t we sometimes all miss this age old simplicity?

History fights to survive as Sarah spots a short faced bear and sketches it yet the short faced bears were considered extinct for over twelve thousand years.

History battles civilization in the all too common place conflict between conservation and development. History is represented by the finding of an old artifact, an atlatl that was used as a spear thrower by ancient communities. This finding would make that park an archaeological site making mining illegal. Buckhorn surveyors push to mine a mineral called at the Olympic park and they will do anything including murder to ensure their mining operations are carried out.

History battles to survive as the atlatl is recovered by Sarah but destroyed by the Buckhorn team but the atlatl like history refuses to die and lives on in a sketch that Sarah had done.

History repeats itself because whatever doesn’t get healed gets passed down in the rape attempt by Lynch on Sarah. Lynch had raped Sarah’s mum, Becky when she was fifteen. But Ruth, Tom’s ex wife now married to Lynch would not confront him about it. Ruth’s silence permitted the abuse to go on unabated. This depicts the scenario in most child abuse cases in modern society. This is second rape attempt on Sarah as her stepdad’s son Mitch Junior had tried to take advantage of her.

History is caught between the epic battle between science and culture as Myra, an anthropologists and Sergei ,a genetics expert have a back and forth, a shouting match as they endeavor to explain the origins of mankind, using legends on one hand and data on the other.

Despite all odds history lives on in our stories, in our past, in nature, in older generations and yes in this book. Is it just a mere coincidence that the word history encompasses the word story ?

Strong Heart is a historical fiction written in the context of Olympic Peninsula Wilderness and North Pacific coast. It is authored by Charlie Sheldon. Charlie worked as a commercial fisherman and later worked as a consultant for fishery management councils developing fishery management plan and then engaging in gear development projects to develop more selective fisheries. He spent twenty-eight years working for seaports as a project and construction manager in New York, Seattle and Bellingham and later as an executive working with Puget sound tribes to reduce tribal fishing conflicts.

I loved the detailed, vivid description of historical events and scenes in the book. I especially loved Sarah’s character considering she is only thirteen and an orphan. The suspense created by Sarah’s eight days disappearance made the plot intriguing. Her character exuding bravery and courage is admirable particularly as she shoots self-made darts and kills a wolf, darts and injures Lynch when he tries to abuse her. She takes on Roger and Raymond with her darts and pins them to a tree when the two destroy the atlatl and attempt to shoot at Myra. She is not only a skilled dart thrower but can aptly sketch people and things with ease. Her sketches of William, Myra, and her grandfather Tom, add some humour to the tense and frightening situations they face, while the spear thrower and the bear live on in her sketches.

Unfortunately, the book has a number of typos. It is sometimes difficult to pick out who among the characters is speaking in instances where more than two characters converse. I didn’t like format of the book in terms of spacing and fonts. The spacing between lines in paragraphs and between most paragraphs was nonexistent. The font size was also too small causing a strain in the eye as I was reading. I also felt the plot moved at a snail’s pace which is not what I expected considering the title of the book.

I would recommend this book to anybody who loves historical themes, with a hiking and camping background and plots that are laid back and not fast paced.

I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars and I leave it to you to decide if history lives on or dies. In my case I hope history will be kind to me because I intend to write it.

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Strong Heart
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