today acquire post-traumatic stress disorder; during WW II it was called
battle fatigue, and in WWI, known as shell shock. In 1861 when fifteen
year old Charley Goddard enlisted in the First Minnesota Volunteers, there
was no term for this syndrome, but it came to be known colloquially as
soldier's heart. Soldier's Heart by three time Newbery Honor winner Gary
Paulsen, details Charley's journey from farm lad bent on adventure boarding
his first train thinking, "I never, I just never imagined such a thing
existed," to a nineteen year old returning from war, entirely disheartened.
We witness the abrupt end of
childhood, the atrocities of war, and the Battle at Gettysburg, all through
the eyes of an innocent. Paulsen has crafted a fine and quick read, appropriate
for both middle and high schoolers. A departure from his contemporary survival
tales, this is historical survival fiction, as we root for the survival
of Charley's very heart.
(Lisa Maher, Colorado
Blue Spruce YA Book Award, 2003)