4 out of 4 stars
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Strong Heart is an imagined tale and book of fiction written by Charlie Sheldon. It centers around Sarah the thirteen-year-old orphan who just meets her grandmother and grandfather that she never knew she had, Tom Olsen her grandfather, William aka Walleye/Eye and his daughter Myra.
Sarah is dropped off by Ruth, her grandmother just as Tom and his companions are about to take a hike to visit where he buried Bob-Bob his own grandfather, wet, confused and difficult. With much reluctance, Tom agrees for her to join the hiking trip.
Insolent and childlike, Sarah gets annoyed when she shows her drawing of a short-faced bear and Tom and William scold her for getting the features wrong, but Myra is in a state of shock as such creature has been extinct for more than twelve thousand years. They all cannot deny that there is something strange but special about her. Catastrophe strikes and Sarah goes missing for 8 days, is even presumed dead.
This book was written partially in Sarah’s point of view with her trying to recount the ordeal she experienced for the eight days she went missing which felt like a lifetime to her. I found it a little hard and confusing to comprehend when she was recounting her dream/other life, I had to take it slow and even sometimes, read twice to understand.
Towards the end, Sergei is added as one of the main characters, even though they all do not have a backstory, the plot of this book was still strong. I was finally able to catch up and I felt like a part of their pain and struggle. The writer was able to portray Sarah as an insolent teenager who matures overnight. From being helpless to being able to defend herself from abuse and even save her companions from being killed. At the beginning of the trip, Tom thought he was doing her a favor and taking her on an adventure, at the end the roles were reversed and it was Sarah who took them on an adventure of a lifetime. I was also able to identify the different strengths and weaknesses of each character.
As I said earlier, I did struggle with Sarah’s narration, I took a breather, came back for a second read and I was as slow as possible. I enjoyed reading about the tension between Myra and Sergei, when two very intelligent minds meet, you know it's bound to be intense. I also loved how to each chapter at the top of the page was a drawing of two mountain peaks, I got a very tribal sense to the book.
I thought about deducting a star from the rating because I'm not one for fictional books but I believe it won’t be fair grading based on my preference. I, therefore, rate this book a 4 out of 4 stars because the author was still able to draw me into feeling like a character. Those who enjoy fiction especially about mysticism and native lands will really love this one. The author did a good job of blending history with a modern story.
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