Sixteen-year-old TOM ALLEN’s life is imploding. His father banished Tom from his life; Tom’s stepfather is entirely too interested in commenting on Tom’s behavior. Then Tom’s beloved grandma suffers a stroke, which leaves his mother emotionally distant.
When Tom reads an old family memoir from his grandma’s cedar chest he becomes intrigued by his ancestors’ accounts of their struggle to form one unified family from two shattered families. They face man-made and natural dangers while they battle to survive smoldering conflicts in “Bleeding Kansas” that will soon erupt into the bloodiest war in American history — the Civil War. With the help of family and friends, past and present, Tom gradually comes to terms with the pain and possibilities of his own family.
HEARTLAND was one of five finalists out of nearly a thousand entries in the 2010 Young Adult Novel Discovery Contest sponsored by the Gotham Writers Workshop.
“Heartland offers a wealth of exceptionally well-drawn characters, demonstrating that Warren Bull is a most talented storyteller.”
– Chris Roerden, author of award-winning
books for writers.
“This is a good historical (pre-Civil War) YA novel involving a 16-year-old. It goes back and forth between present and past. It is a good coming of age story”
– Clay Stafford, Founder of Killer Nashville.
“Part rip-roaring adventure, part heartfelt coming-of-age tale, Heartland is every bit a page turner. Warren Bull masterfully paints the prairie life and harrowing conflict of 1850s Bleeding Kansas, and weaves it seamlessly into a modern-day mystery. I was caught up from the first page and couldn’t put it down till I finished.”
– L.D. Harkrader, award-winning author of
Airball: My Life in Briefs
“When the present seems lost, the past can bring realities into view. Heartland follows Tom Allen, a young man whose home life seems to be falling apart. Looking into his family’s past he learns much, and brings what he learns to the table in the modern day. Heartland is a fine read about coming of age, highly recommended.”
– Staff Review, Helen C. White Library’s “Cooperative Book Center” (University of Wisconsin, Madison.)
“Warren Bull, the author of Heartland, is a master at creating suspense and in taking readers to another time and place as I’ve learned from his previous books. His newest book Heartland is part adventure and mystery, part historical fiction and part coming-of-age novel. I was captivated from the beginning; I didn’t want to put it down and yet I was sorry for it to end. It’s obvious why Heartland was one of five finalists in the 2010 Young Adult Novel Discovery Contest sponsored by the Gotham Writers Workshop.
I first became acquainted with some of the characters in Heartland when I read the story “Beecher’s Bibles” in Murder, Manhattan Style. I was quickly pulled into the time of the story, the 1850s and Bleeding Kansas. I was drawn to the clever children who used their ingenuity as well as their knowledge of the “Beecher Bible,” a new percussion rifle, to save their father and each other.
I was delighted to learn that this story had become the 1st chapter in Heartland, the story of 16-year-old Tom Allen living in present day Manhattan, Kansas. Tom is already striving to cope with a concerned stepfather and a distant and disinterested father when his beloved grandmother has a stroke and his life becomes even more complicated.
At his grandmother’s request Tom’s mother gives him the keys to a trunk and a cedar chest in his grandmother’s attic. Grandma tells Tom that she wants him to meet Amy, Joshua, Sarah and Benjamin. In the chest Tom and his friend Pat find letters that are over one hundred years old, telling about diaries from the 1850s written by ancestors who traveled to Kansas Territory in support of abolition. They suffered conflicts and dangers in Bleeding Kansas and later in the Civil War while working to combine two families shattered by tragedy. Tom and his friend become fascinated with such a personal view of the past as they realize that kindness, courage and honor are lasting values for any time period.
Heartland is a skillful blending of past and present and the ways in which we can all learn from family and friends as we navigate the difficulties of our own lives. I highly recommend it.”