4 out of 4 stars
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Strong Heart is a novel written by Charlie Sheldon in the genre other fiction. At its most basic level, this is a book of journeys. Tom is a retired fisherman who wants to visit his grandfather’s grave and make sure it is protected before the mining company Buckhorn start sending surveyors into the Olympic Park. Tom invites his friend William and William’s daughter Myra to make the trip with him. As they are getting ready to go, Tom’s ex-wife appears on his doorstep with a twelve-year-old girl who is Tom’s granddaughter Sarah.
Tom chooses not to postpone the trip and decides to take Sarah along. Once they have arrived at Bear Valley, a fight occurs between Sarah and Tom and Sarah walks away and then disappears. Tom, William, Myra and two surveyors from Buckhorn arrange a search and rescue operation along with the park rangers. After a few days, the search is called off and only Tom, William and Myra remain in Bear Valley still searching for Sarah.
On the eighth day, there is a tremendous lightning storm. In the midst of the storm a small, mud covered and injured Sarah appears before them, seemingly from nowhere. Then Sarah tells them a truly unbelievable story.
Sergei joins the group and is the protagonist to Sarah’s story and Myra’s theoretical opponent. The author’s excellent research on the book’s main topic, the prehistory of the America's becomes evident here as he presents not only his own theory but also the theories largely accepted by today’s academia. Sergei the scientist will either back Sarah’s story with the available data, or destroy its credibility.
The book gets off to a slow start, however this pace is justified as Sarah tells her story and the steady pace ensures that the reader is given time to absorb the theory the author postulates versus theories which are widely accepted today regarding the human time-line and how early humans migrated across the planet.
There are no Americanisms in the book, and this absence changes the writing style and superbly adds realism to Sarah’s story. The style of writing suits the subject matter, and while the overall style seems curt or ill described at first, it again suits the language we imagine early humans would have used.
Although some subjects in the book such as anthropology and genetics are specialised subjects that the average reader may not know much about, they are presented in such a way that even the most uninterested person will understand. Having said that, should the reader be an amateur archaeologist or history buff; that knowledge will serve the reader well and make the book even more interesting.
Other subjects such as survival and cultural history are subjects known to everybody. The book underlines the idiom of a grain of truth in every story. Every nation on earth has legends, myths and mysteries. Everyone can find a common denominator in some of the myths explored in the book. For example, every culture and certainly every religion has its own flood story.
As a whole, the book is well edited and no grammatical mistakes slow the reader’s eye or detract from the story and it is well polished from start to finish. Considered with the writing style, this polish is essential and has been well done.
I loved the reasoning for certain actions in Strong Heart’s story. There is a morality among the people, it is not enforced but it shows the kind of loyalty and bonding that may have been important to early humans. This is a niche subject and readers with no interest in the subjects and topics mentioned may find it slightly less interesting. I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars with a strong recommendation to read. As a minor history buff myself, this was right up my alley. I look forward to many discussions arising from the subject matter.
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