Strange Heart Beating

  • by Eli Goldstone
  • Narrated by Tom Lawrence
  • 5 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

A new hilarious, honest, and inspirational middle-grade novel about finding your inner hero, from the author of Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie.
In sixth grade, bad things can happen to good kids. Bullies will find your weakness and jump on it. Teachers will say you did something wrong when really you didn't mean to do anything wrong. The kids who joke the loudest can drown out the quieter, nicer kids.
Maverick wants to change all that. One of the last things his father left him was a toy sheriff's badge, back when Maverick was little. Now he likes to carry it around to remind him of his dad - and also to remind him to make school a better place for everyone...even if that's a hard thing to do, especially when his own home life is falling apart.
The Secret Sheriff of Sixth Grade is a story about standing up for yourself - and being a hero at home and in the halls of your school.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Can you ever know the one you love?

I was intrigued by this title, not only by the elegant swan-woman cover design but by the extravagant claims as a ‘stunning debut novel’. After the first half hour or so, I was thinking that I would return it to Audible. It was confusing and muddled and Seb, the stricken academic-widow of Leda, seemed merely tedious. But there was enough as I continued with it to be intriguing. Eli Goldstone’s language was vibrant and she had a headful of ideas. I persevered to the end.

Strange Heart Beating is a great title taken from Yeats’s poem (which unlike this novel really IS stunning) recreating the impregnating of Leda by Zeus in the form of a swan. This myth is at the centre of Goldstone’s novel and that’s one of the problems with it. Leda went on to hatch children from Zeus’s eggs and the symbolism of eggs, childlessness, water and swans permeates the whole far too intrusively, merely clogging an already over-full agenda. Seb’s beloved Latvian wife had been killed by a swan on a London boating lake and that’s just the start of it.

After Leda dies, Seb finds a stash of unopened letters from ‘Olaf’, someone Leda had never spoken of. He travels to Latvia to explore Leda’s roots and find out exactly who she was. The long section in Latvia is a vigorous and violent portrayal of rural Latvia as Seb finds Olaf (Leda’s cousin, it turns out) and his dreadful sidekick Georgi. Straightaway he finds that Leda was really Lena, but that’s just the start of his learning the depth of the unknowability surrounding Lena, this stranger to whom he was married.

There are some truly horrible scenes (hunting the black wolf and cutting him up; searching for Georgi) which seem to belong to another genre altogether. The theme of telling stories / fairy tale / myth overpowers the characters. There’s just too much in the novel: Leda/Lena’s diary entries; Olaf’s letters… but the greatest failure for me was that not one of the characters is likeable and quite a few are extremely unpleasant.

Tom Lawrence is an excellent narrator and without him I think I would not have persevered. He had a tough job with the accents (I don’t know what Latvian English sounds like, but have heard a lot of Russian so it sounded right), and he made Olaf and the various Latvians larger than life. He was good, too, on Leda’s voice. Goldstone described Olaf calling like ‘ a bear trapped in a sewer pipe’ and I’m sure if a bear were trapped in a sewer pipe he would sound just like Tom Lawrence’s Latvian English!
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- Rachel Redford

Book Details

  • Release Date: 22-09-2017
  • Publisher: Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd