4 out of 4 stars
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The book Strong Heart by Charlie Sheldon is a wonderful novel which will interest the reader till the end. Tom, his granddaughter Sarah, Williams, his daughter Myra are on a hiking trip to Godkin Creek, a forest covered with needles and leaves.
Tom wants to visit his grand father, ‘Bob Bob’s grave, whom he had buried in the forest. Tom and William were friends aged about 70. William’s daughter was accompanying them to help them out and she was as archaeologist. The Olympic Peninsula was a land of myth, ancient stories, ancient people. Sarah was an arrogant grand daughter born to Becky. Tom’s exwife Ruth left her with him, since her mother had passed away.
Sarah was a spoilt child and made lives of people around her difficult. William and Myra persuade Tom to take Sarah along on the trip, to which he reluctantly agrees. Tom had grown up in Port Angeles. After school he was in Asia, for military training and his grand father used to visit him.
Ruth’s husband Lynch acquired Tom’s claim in the middle of park. Bob Bob had to sign up the claim to the bank because he could not pay from his logging work. His banker's Fletcher Lynch and now his son Fletcher Junior inherited his estate. Lynch’s dream was to make it into a Dispersal Centre converting it into an industrial land and into real estate parks. He sold it to Buckhorn, who wants a mineral called erbium from the land which when mixed with other elements would help to precipitate all toxins in coal. This would make Buckhorn make trillions.
As they hiked Sarah got to see a short faced bear which according to Myra had been living 12000 years ago, but now extinct. Tom shows them an artifact “an atlatl” – spear thrower which he wanted to place in Bob Bob’s grave. They were heading towards Godkin Valley.
During the trip Myra unveils a story said by her grandmother that land grew cold, sky dark, living things suffered. All died. A lady killer whale and a bear fell in love and made family. Similarly many whales and bears made family and the children born to them were neither bear nor whale but both. That is how humans came. They reached the grave and were about to fill it up with stones, when Tom’s joke upsets Sarah and she leaves them and returns to the tent. She gets lost and they could not find her inspite of searching for her, for eight days. Suddenly amidst rain she reaches them in a completely battered state. She reveals an astonishing story that she had been taken captive by the tree people and carried on a skin boat along with six others. From them she was taken on to a big canoe and were out in the ocean trying to make their way to the land of men. Her story told of nearly a month’s journey on the boat with few clothes, fish and seals to eat by hunting. They return back to their house and Sarah returns to her grandmother but she seems to have changed to a silent composure, since her visit to Tom.
Tom wants the silver that had been on the atlatl to be dated. William contacts Alec and his son Sergei. They were to attend the conference which was to argue about the ancestors of North America. Sergei was of the opinion that Moderns rose from Berengia scattered over the earth from there. Myra believed humans arrived in North America earlier.
Sarah runs away from her grandmother, comes to Tom and insists on going to Godkin Valley again to retrieve the atlatl, which she had dropped in the hole where she had been trapped the previous trip. Sergei joins them and the five again hike to Godkin.
Were they able to retrieve it? How they returned back is what the whole story is about .The remaining story of Sarah’s journey on the canoe is worth reading.
I liked the story because I was curious to know how Sarah had got into the boat and her return to her companions. Sarah’s dreams told about the past ancestors and she seemed to be guided by the spirits. However her journey on the boat and her description of the people on it was sometimes confusing.
The author has done a great job by revealing history in a spectacular manner. I would rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. A must read for folks interested in the history of the world.
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