4 out of 4 stars
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Strong Heart by Charlie Sheldon is an amazing story with a repeating theme that sets up its pace. Can the old ways coexist with new and modern ideas? Can these old mystical ways even survive today without yielding and losing their original purpose? Can anything survive without a strong spirit and purpose?
The first clash between ideas occurs when young Sarah is introduced to her grandfather Tom who is about to leave on a backpacking trip with his friend William and William’s daughter, Myra. Sarah will call into question everything that Tom thought he knew about his own family and past. Without knowing it she will become the catalyst for a journey that will challenge the character’s ideas about life and their own endurance as they embark on a difficult journey through the mountains.
Two stories merge. An amazing and impossible journey through the sea back in the ice age and a backpacking trip that proved to be more nerve-racking and important than previously though join their forces to create something definitely greater than the sum of their parts. Although they could not be more different each tale remind us of how human it is to face overwhelming odds without losing hope, whether we are facing nature’s forces or other fellow humans who will stop at nothing to ensure their own survival.
Of course, no survival could be achieved by our own means for we must learn from those who came before and those who surround us. For this reason then family ties will play an important role for every character at every point of the story, helping us to understand their personalities and goals better. Mysticism is also very present yet it is incorporated into the plot in the most subtle and fitting way, strange animals and dreams fill the story with magic and spark curiosity in our imagination, silent eagles circle quietly and suspiciously from above, as if watching over the characters and following them, just like we do as we read. Unlikely legends from the first settlers of the continent become plausible both in the book and in our own minds to the point where we have to remind ourselves that this is a fictional piece of literature.
With characters that are as realistic as they are well-written and a story that can be appealing to basically anyone who cares to listen, Strong Heart will certainly touch the reader. And whether we find ourselves reading about a walk through a mountain trail or about a discussion over the true origins of the settlers of this magical land, this coming of age tale leaves behind many of the common tropes of this genre to tell a relatable and realistic story.
This is the first book that I have ever read from this author and I think that it is important to state that Charlie Sheldon is very talented when it comes to writing but he is also extremely well informed about all the elements he incorporated into his novel. The book can be read either as for entertainment or as a way to get acquaintance with the certain array of topics, it is impossible to go through this book without taking something with you. Native American legends, lifestyle, and their struggle to cope with modernization, anthropological theories, scientific standpoints, the life in the mountains and the interactions and relationships that make us truly human. All of these combine and become something that might have been explored before in different ways but somehow maintains its uniqueness. This novel truly deserves all the praise that it has received so far and the one that it will surely continue to receive.
I can recommend this novel to almost everyone that I know who reads, young girls could make a lot out of it too, but as a funny thing, in his preface the author goes and dedicates this wonderful novel to: “those who greatest pleasure is curling up with a book on a rainy afternoon”. I can tell you that not only he succeeded at that but also at creating a wonderful experience that can truly inspire the reader.
One of the things I loved the most about Strong Heart was its set of characters that range in age, culture and ancestry and how when you thought you could tell how one of them was supposed to be and behave they would always sway a bit, showing you more of their personalities and making them more human. This book is the first of a trilogy and if I had to add something that I did not like about it to this review it would be that the ending got me really interested in reading next part which is not out yet. Because of these last couple reasons I feel that I can easily give this book 4 out of 4 stars.
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