3 out of 4 stars
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Strong Heart by Charlie Sheldon tells the story of a troubled teen, an unprepared grandfather, and a journey to find their roots.
Tom was preparing to set off on a long backpacking trip when a granddaughter that he had never met was dropped off at his door. His granddaughter, Sarah, had traveled through several homes before she reached him and was having trouble finding a safe place to land. Tom, his friend William, and William's daughter, Myra, decided to take Sarah with them on the backpacking trip. As they traveled together, they learned about each other and the history of the land they traversed along the way.
I would recommend this book to people who enjoy history and travel books. It has numerous historical facts and details a few epic journeys across land and sea in different locations.
There are strong plot points in this book, and parts of the story are very well-paced. My favorite part of this book was the author's world-building. I enjoyed the descriptions of the characters hiking through trees, near rivers, and up mountains. The forest scenes in this book were beautiful and serene. I got the feeling that the author was very familiar with the terrain that was described.
Unfortunately, the lack of character development made it hard to get invested in the story at all. I don’t feel like I learned very much about any of the characters. The focus of the book jumped between a few characters without providing a closer look at their inner thoughts. My least favorite part of this book was the dialogue. The characters often spoke like they were reading from an encyclopedia, spouting out numbers and facts with astounding accuracy. Any relationship-building between characters was filled with negative emotions or just fell flat.
This book has short chapters, which I enjoyed. However, there are a couple of large sections in this book that switch to a first-person narrative. The very short chapters, when used in those sections, made it a bit hard to keep track of where I was in the story. I also had a hard time determining who was speaking at a few points throughout the book. This might have been a quirk of the formatting, or could have been a result of the lack of character development.
This book was exceptionally well-edited, and I found very few typos. The author uses language that has a specific accent and cadence at times, but it is easy to read and understand.
I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. I wouldn't rate it two stars because it has some intriguing plot points and appears to be professionally edited. I can't give it 4 stars because the lack of character development made it tough for me to get invested in the storyline.
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