3 out of 4 stars
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Strong Heart by Charlie Sheldon is a combination of mysticism, magic, adventure, culture, and legends told generation after generation. The themes of the story revolve around the new relationships, family, and bonding with nature and heritage.
The story revolves around a thirteen-year-old girl Sarah who is left at the doorstep of her grandfather Tom by his ex-wife Ruth in the surprising turn of events for Tom. Tom was never aware of the existence of his granddaughter and was surprised to welcome a lean, intelligent and challenging teenager. Before the arrival of Sarah, Tom along with his friend William and his daughter Myra was ready to set for the Olympic National Park with the intention to visit the grave of Tom's father Bob to retrieve his body and belongings and properly bury his remains. Quite unwilling and perplexed about his rebellious teenage granddaughter, he decides to take Sarah with him. This proves to be an interesting decision as it sets in motion chain of events which changes their perception of the historical importance of the Olympic National Park and areas surrounding it. During their trip, Sarah goes missing and comes back after eight days with an interesting and unbelievable story to tell.
Initially, the book seems like an ordinary adventure by family and friends with the intention to give a proper burial to Tom's father. However, later the events take an interesting turn and Sarah's experience of the magical world gives it a twist which was not expected initially. The most interesting part of the book was the link of the history of the Olympic National Park, its archaeological importance, and experiences Sarah had during her strange adventure with unknown people. In this aspect, the book is very well written and highlights the historical importance of the area. The author seems to have an extensive research on the surroundings in which the story develops and catches the attention of the reader through strong and picturesque description of the scenery and surroundings.
One of the flaws of the story is that it was finished haphazardly and there was no proper ending to it. The mere fact that everyone believed Sarah's story after watching the bear with their own eyes was not the ending one could expect from the author. The protection of the area and the artifacts was the main theme of the book which had become the mission of the main characters for which they risked the life of Sarah to retrieve the atlatl from the deep cave. However, the book is very interesting and is very difficult to put aside especially once Sarah's adventure to strange and mystical land starts.
The book is strongly recommended for the readers who are interested in legends, science, archaeology, nature, and evolution of life in early ages. Simple language and sentence structure make it an interesting read yet it would be somewhat difficult to understand for the young readers.
I would rate the book 3 out of 4 stars. Though the book was very interesting, yet some of the events described by Strong Heart were quite confusing which were later explained a bit by Sergei through his historical knowledge of the area. The other major reason for the rating is the haphazard and sudden ending of the book. The book failed to provide any conclusion about the fate of the area where Buckhorn was all ready to mine and destroy its natural and historical importance.
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