Strong Heart is a unique and exciting story by author Charlie Sheldon that takes place on Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula. Between the breathtaking cover and the almost cinematic opening, this was one book to get excited about.
Strong Heart opens with maps of our upcoming journey, and then with characters William, Tom, and Myra preparing for a hiking trip. Myra is William's daughter. Unexpectedly, Tom’s ex-wife Ruth drops their teenage granddaughter off with him, Sarah Cooley, claiming she can no longer care for her. Confused, but eventually accepting, Tom takes Sarah along on their hiking trip.
In the beginning, it’s obvious Sarah doesn’t want to be there. She gives off that typical teenage attitude, however, Tom doesn’t necessarily make it easy on her either. While he seems willing to get to know Sarah, (it’s touched upon that he didn’t have a good relationship with her mother), he also seems apathetic towards the situation. We see more of this attitude when Sarah brings a drawing back to camp. Sarah claims to have seen a prehistoric bear; she draws the bear in her sketch book and shows it to Tom, William, and Myra. Tom doesn’t believe her, which prompts Sarah to take off alone. After searching for eight days, Sarah is found, and she has an amazing story to tell.
If you enjoy stories with a focus on history and mysticism, then you will enjoy Strong Heart. The story begins in the present time, and then readers are transported to the past. This is where we learn the story of Strong Heart, along with other characters and experiences told by young Sarah. Sheldon goes into great detail concerning the historical aspects of the story. The pacing was appropriate and the character development was done well. There was more of a connection and a focus on Tom and Sarah’s relationship.
Readers are then transported back to the present; this leaves Tom, William, and Myra wondering if Sarah’s story is true. I give Strong Heart 3 out of 4 stars. The time transitions threw me off a bit, which is why I’m giving it a 3. The first time we are transported in time, it feels forced and quick, which led to some confusion. Sarah is questioned about her experiences while she was missing, and then the next chapter jumps into Sarah’s historic tale. One may feel they’re reading an entirely different story. However, both seemingly separate stories were solid and essential to the other. These time jumps continue until the end of the story.
Overall, this story was enjoyable and interesting. Sheldon writes extremely well; he is descriptive, and there is definite excitement going into the story, wondering where this journey is going to lead everyone. This story is filled with history, wonder, and mysticism. It shows us how friendship and family bonds shape the people we become. Sheldon is an exceptional writer, and I look forward to reading more of his works.