Title: Defiant Heart
Author: Marty Steere
Available from: Available April 15 – read a sample at the author's website
I had read and reviewed Sea of Crises, which I loved, so I was anticipating another good read when the author asked me to read and review Defiant Heart.
Don't pick up this book and expect one anything like Sea of Crises. The only thing the two have in common is the author. Which isn't a bad thing because that means you're going to get to read first-rate storytelling. Like Sea of Crises, this book is well written and well told.
I fell in love with Jonathan Meyer, Mary Dahlgren, Walt, Ben, and the small town in Indiana where most of this story takes place. My heart broke for Jon, whose entire family is killed in a car accident, leaving him to travel alone to his new home with his grandmother, whom he has never met. He is greeted by her instruction to call her ma'am – not Grandmother, and this sets the tone for their relationship. Jon finds his grandmother isn't the only one in town with a cold shoulder. Before long, he's ostracized at school and loses his job at Dahlgren Hardware, because he's Jewish. As his grandmother warms to him (like a glacier warming), she gives him an old bicycle to fix up and Jon assuages his loneliness by riding far and wide through the surrounding countryside. In this way, he meets Ben, who becomes like a father to him. But he continues to run crossways with the bullies at school, even while falling in love with Mary Dahlgren.
I could go on and on about the story, but you can read the book. I can tell you I couldn't put it down. I laughed, I cried and I sighed. I loved every minute of it, and it's not the genre I generally prefer to read. It's one of those books that present a conundrum: I couldn't stop reading, couldn't get enough of the story, even though I knew I'd feel the pang of loss when I did reach the end. And don't ask me which book I prefer, Defiant Heart or Sea of Crises – it's like asking if I like filet mignon better than homemade cinnamon rolls. They're both excellent, but can't be compared to each other.
I'll definitely be adding Marty Steere to my list of favorite authors to watch. I can highly recommend watching for this book's publication on April 15th so you can grab it and immerse yourself in the life of Jon and Mary for a few hours.