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SOLDIER'S HEART by Gary Paulsen Kirkus Star

SOLDIER'S HEART

By Gary Paulsen

Age Range: 10 - 14

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-385-32498-7
Publisher: Delacorte

The nightmare of the Civil War comes to the page in this novel from Paulsen (The Transall Saga, p. 741, etc.), based on the real-life experiences of a young enlistee. Charley Goddard, a hard-working, sweet-tempered Minnesota farm boy, can’t wait to sign up when the call comes for men to defend the Union. But the devoted son and brother who looks forward to sending home the $11 a month he earns for his soldiering is not prepared for the inedible food, ill-fitting uniform, or the dysentery he experiences just while training. The passages on the battles of Bull Run and Gettysburg are—as they should be—disconcerting, even upsetting, in the unflinching portrayal of the bloodshed and savagery of war. What is truly remarkable is Paulsen’s portrayal of Charley, who is transformed from an innocent boy into a seasoned--but not hardened or embittered--soldier. Most haunting of all, more than the fiery skirmishes themselves, is the final picture of Charley, so shaken and drained from the experience that the only peace he can envision lies within suicide. An author’s note tells of Charley’s true fate—dead at 23 from the psychological and physical ravages of war. (Fiction. 10-14)