4 out of 4 stars
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Strong Heart is a fictional tale by Charlie Sheldon. A big part of the story is set around and within the Olympic National Park in Washington State, USA.
The story begins with our protagonist, Tom, about to leave for a planned camping trip. He's accompanied by William and William's daughter, Myra. Tom planned this trip as a secret pilgrimage to his grandfather's grave. Just before his departure, he is reunited with Sarah-a granddaughter he knew nothing about. This becomes the first of many obstacles that will lead Tom to reconsider his earlier decisions. Tom reluctantly brings Sarah along for the trip – the teenager is not impressed at all.
Sarah initially hates the outdoors and becomes rebellious. After a week in the wilderness, Sarah suddenly goes missing. Tom initially thinks it's another rebellious streak, but things become even more complicated when she's not seen for several nights. What follows is a desperate attempt to find her and the introduction of a shadowy corporate antagonist with a secret agenda that will drag in Tom's family. Will Sarah find her way back? Do you know what a short-faced bear is? Join Tom and Sarah in Strong Heart to find out about this and more.
Strong Heart is OBC's Book Of The Month. I also picked up this book for the rave reviews I've seen, I was curious. I had high expectations and am pleased to not have been disappointed. Besides, this was my first book to review and I was hoping for something light and easy.
Sarah was the most well-developed character. I admired her resilience and bravery displayed throughout the book. Although her initial rebellion was frustrating, her quick transition to maturity was highly admirable. My worst character would have to be Pretty Face. Please get yourself a copy of the book to know why.
The book had strong themes, especially on nature and the environment. Sheldon described the Earth and sky as if it was another character in the book. I was mesmerized by the surroundings inside Olympic National Park and Sarah's ordeal at sea. Although at times it felt as if it was overdone, this was not enough to be so much of a distraction. The author's love of nature is apparent even in the protagonists' stand for conservation. Family is also a strong theme in the book. I sympathized with Tom and the reasons behind his pilgrimage. I don't know how I would react when in a similar situation when his grandfather died. I am an emotional person and can't handle death so easily.
I did not find any errors in the book. The pace was slow but engaging. I liked the inclusion of the sitemap which I referenced continuously and was a useful aid. Due to these reasons, I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. I would recommend this book to fans of historical tales. Other prevalent themes are American-Indian origins, family, conservancy, and the environment.
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