Hearts of Iron

Written by Kathleen Benner Duble Margaret K. McElderry
Review by Nancy Castaldo

Lucy Petee lives in a small mountain ironworking community in 1820. She’s fourteen years old, too old to swim in just her shift with her best friend, Jesse, but too young to consider the marriage her father has in mind for her. Duble, author of The Sacrifice, has returned again to historical fiction in this novel of friendship and love. In Hearts of Iron, readers feel Lucy’s love for her community, and at the same time empathize with Jesse’s desire to escape the ironworks. It would be easy for Lucy to marry Jesse and for them both to stay, but Lucy’s father expects more for his daughter, and a life with Jesse on the mountain is out of the question. Jesse’s parents have plans for him too. They expect him to follow the family tradition of working in the ironworks’ forge even after his brother is burned. Jesse is determined to join the navy and move away, even if it means leaving Lucy behind. Can Lucy and Jesse balance their dreams with their hearts? Duble presents a believable story of teen/parent conflicts, romance, and friendship in this second novel. The tension-filled plot flows quickly, but readers may not find the ending they want. Ages 8-11.