Strong Heart by Charlie Sheldon is a multifaceted novel, making its categorization into any particular genre difficult. This is a story about finding one’s root, a story about thrilling adventures, a story laced with legends and myths. Above all, this is a novel that makes you feel enriched.
Accompanied with William and Myra, Tom plans a visit to his great-great grandfather’s grave. Due to an unexpected turn of events, Tom is left with the responsibility of Sarah, his wayward granddaughter. He dreads the consequences of taking her along in the journey. When Sarah accidentally loses her way in the wilderness, she discovers herself not at a different place, but in a different time. What adventures await her there? Will she be able to return to her granddad unscathed?
I loved the author’s take on culture and legends. He maintains a notion that the advent of science does not necessarily refute old ideas and beliefs. Sometimes, much knowledge remains to be gained from the songs and myths of ancient days. Moreover, the concept of a pilgrimage to the ancestor’s place was mind-blowing. Strong Heart demonstrates how important it is to know one’s cultural history.
The characters were mostly well-developed. I appreciated Sarah’s character the most. She shows strong will, determination, and indomitable courage. Among the others, Myra with her quick wits and Sergei with his scientific mindset are worth mentioning.
One of the dominant themes of the novel was the constant conflict between the old and the young. This generation gap is clearly evident in the ongoing debate between Alec and his son Sergei. Tom’s disapproval of Sarah and her comments about him also reflect this conflict. However, these occasional misunderstandings never caused the bonding between the characters to waver. The friendship between William and Tom, and that between William and Alec touch the reader’s heart.
A remarkable aspect of the novel was the theory on human evolution and possible routes of migration. Lacking detailed knowledge on the subject, I cannot comment on the authenticity of the author’s view. However, I like it because it portrays the entire humankind as a single family. This creates a sense of unity irrespective of the differences in our birthplace, appearance, and culture.
My most favorite part of the novel was Sarah’s adventures in the past. The slight twinge of paranormal makes them more engaging. The author’s nautical skills as a commercial fisherman were exemplified in the book, a feat unique to Strong Heart.
However, some aspects of the book failed to satisfy me. Foremost, I would have liked more variation in the dialogues. They are a little repetitive in places, especially during the arguments. Tom’s initial disapproval of Sarah sounded unrealistic. Equally unrealistic was the animosity between Myra and Sergei. Even their reconciliation seemed forceful. Additionally, the short and clipped sentences sometimes hindered the ease of reading.
Keeping the above-mentioned points in mind, I rate Strong Heart 3 out of 4 stars. A few typing errors did not hinder the reading experience. This book will appeal to a vast audience. Readers who enjoy historical fictions and adventure stories will appreciate this. Although quite a few grisly deaths are mentioned in the book, the gory details are not overdone.