Soldier's Heart (Hardcover)
|Author: Gary Paulsen|
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|In June 1861, when the Civil War began, Charley Goddard left his farm and enlisted in the First Minnesota Volunteers. He was fifteen. He didn't rightly know what a "shooting war" meant, or what he was fighting for. All he knew was that he didn't want to miss out on a great adventure.|
The shooting war meant the horror of combat and the wild luck of survival. It meant knowing how it feels to cross a field toward the enemy, waiting for fire. Waiting for death. And Charley learned: This is how it's done.
When he entered the service he was a boy. When he came back he was different. He was only nineteen, but he was a man said to have "soldier's heart".
From the Publisher:
Eager to enlist, fifteen-year-old Charley has a change of heart after experiencing both the physical horrors and mental anguish of Civil War combat.
"...for mature young readers (or perhaps for those too addicted to action flicks), Paulsen has written a haunting book about the loss of life and the loss of heart in war." - Susan Faust 10/25/1998 School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-Charley Goddard, 15, leaves his Minnesota farm to enlist in the Union army in 1861. An almost festive train ride to the South soon gives way to the harrowing realities of war. Paulsen pulls no punches, rendering the young man's experiences in matter-of-fact prose that accentuates the horror. The third-person narrative sticks to Charley's point of view, relating his immediate sensations and the simple ways he tries to come to terms with the bloodshed. The boy soon faces the inevitability of his awful situation but never loses his fear and confusion. After four major battles, he is badly wounded at Gettysburg. A final chapter shows him at 21, joyless, hopeless, and contemplating suicide. Paulsen's introduction explains that having a "soldier's heart" is the Civil War equivalent of shell shock and post-traumatic stress disorder. Charley's experiences show the devastating effect of war in a touchingly personal way. There are unsensationalized descriptions of violence and chaotic battle scenes, but the most powerful images come from particular details. After one conflict, Charley tearfully positions a dying boy's rifle so that he can kill himself. On another occasion, Charley helps a doctor keep the wounded warm by building a windbreak out of dead bodies. The young man's quiet despair at the end of the book makes it clear that nothing good has come out of Charley's war. The grim violence and bleak resolution may put off some readers, but the novel succeeds as a fiery indictment of war and as a memorable depiction of an individual.-Steven Engelfried, West Linn Public Library, OR 9/1/98