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The Girl (age 11) finished this book yesterday and couldn’t wait to write this review, grabbing a piece of paper and her clipboard as soon as she finished her homework.  I’m so happy that she shares my love of historical fiction!  If you have a weak stomach, you might want to skip the teaser passage, which she chose herself because she wanted to show how the author illustrates the horror of war.

“Where are you hit?”

“I don’t know.  They sent me back.  I think it’s my shoulder but it don’t seem to hurt.”

“Over there.  Sit with that group by the tent and we’ll get to you when we can.”  The man turned back to the tent with no sides where a doctor working by lantern light was sawing a leg off a soldier.  Near the tent was a pile of arms and legs that stood four feet high and ten or twelve feet long. 

(from Soldier’s Heart, page 86)

In Soldier’s Heart, a 15-year-old boy named Charley Goddard hears the first “shooting war” has begun.  Charley thinks this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.  So Charley lies about his age and joins the First Minnesota Volunteers.  It is 1861.  He goes off to war not knowing what to expect but still excited about the journey that lies ahead.  Will Charley survive the Civil War?

Soldier’s Heart is historical fiction.  Some parts aren’t true.  In the author’s note, Gary Paulsen says the real Charley didn’t fight at Bull Run, but he does in the book.

I thought this book was amazing!  Gary Paulsen wrote Hatchet, which I thought was just okay, but this book proved he could do better.  He makes you feel like you’re in Charley’s shoes, though some parts are disgusting, like when Charley wants to refill his canteen and he wonders why the water is red and sees dead bodies in the water.  This book makes you think that war is dumb!

I recommend this book to people who like to study the Civil War.  But if you read this book, you must read the author’s note if you want to know what happens to the real Charley.

Disclosure: The Girl borrowed Soldier’s Heart from her teacher. I am an IndieBound affiliate and an Amazon associate.

© 2011 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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