4 out of 4 stars
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Strong Heart by Charlie Sheldon is a story about an extraordinary adventure to the depths of the picturesque Olympic National Park where Tom Olsen brings his newly met granddaughter, Sarah, who is a self-willed and stubborn teenager. They are joined by his friend William and his daughter Myra. Their quest is to reach Tom grandfather's grave and return an artifact that he took from the place decades ago. However, it may have a great value not only to him, but the whole history of the place and, perhaps, determine the migrating roots of humanity itself. In the heart of events, Sarah goes missing in the wilderness. She miraculously finds her way back, despite being badly injured, and tells a story that most of you will have a hard time believing. As the story unfolds, her disappearance attracts even more people to the mystery, bearing both good intentions and life threatening territorial conflicts.
The author intertwines the stories of several characters from the present and the past, but does so in a way that the transition between the two settings isn't confusing at all. However, I found quite a few similarities in the storytelling between the two narrators, Tom and Sarah - the way they would describe the settings of their different stories sounded almost as if it was the same person. I loved how the main characters from these two different stories in the book had common traits, although the author doesn't reveal much about their backgrounds and most of them are just supporting characters. Nevertheless, I felt that they were all quite valuable to the story, as without the group they wouldn't have been able to face those situations alone.
The only thing that made me feel slightly irritated is that Myra was very supportive of Sarah at the beginning but then I could sense doubt in her words as the events unfold. Despite all the disagreements and exceptional stubbornness of many of the characters, they all had strong supportive relationship.
The book is clearly story-based rather than character-driven. Some books will have you strongly identifying with the characters - the characters could work in any story; however, in this book, the opposite was true - the story was the most important part of the book, and could have been told with any characters.
The author brings attention to the myths of Native American people, archaeological research, science and simply belief with no evidence needed. The book is a story within a story - all the descriptions were so powerful and engaging that I could immerse myself in the surroundings, feel the thrill of the chase, and relive the events as if I were there. I practically could breathe the air of the park, suffocate in the smoke, and was grasped by the tension throughout the whole read. I must say that Charlie Sheldon is a master of suspense: I kept turning the pages with haste and couldn't put it down until I had reached a point where I knew the characters would be safe for a minute while I catch my breath.
To be honest, I finished the book in 24 hours, as it was written in such an enjoyable manner. For the breathtakingly depicted nature with great emphasis on the history, I am proud to award the author with 4 out of 4 stars. Undoubtedly, this is a book for people that are looking for an adventure, for young or old readers, and those who have a craving for the history of humanity.
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