Heart of Steel

Based on a True Story

Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
232 Pages
Reviewed on 11/20/2019
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Air Force veteran Kevin D. Miller woke up one day to learn his real name wasn't the all-American Miller. Instead is was the very Polish Puchalski. His grandfather changed the family name in 1920 to bury a dark and tragic family secret. A secret he took to the grave. Kevin spent years uncovering the truth of his family's past and what he found shook him to his core. His great grandfather was murdered in his sleep by thieves. But all isn't as it seems and this story takes some shocking twists and turns before it finally leads to the truth. A truth that still reverberates to this day. Based on the incredible true story of Stanley William Miller, Heart of Steel tells the tale of a young man's life and struggles to overcome the impossible. It is a story of love, abuse, loyalty and honor. You will laugh, you will cry and you will live life through Stanley's eyes. Heart of Steel is currently in the works to become a feature film in Hollywood. For more information contact the author at webmilleraz@gmail.com.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Trudi LoPreto for Readers' Favorite

It was an experience of joy, sadness and of family love that made reading Heart of Steel by Kevin D. Miller unforgettable. We meet young Stanley Pulchalski, his brothers, sisters, mom, and dad and share in their life experiences right alongside them. Heart of Steel starts in the early 1920s in a farmhouse where we meet Stanley at the young age of 12 and we share his life until his death in 1985. We cry along with Stanley as he is put into an orphanage and find joy when he works hard to make a better life for his siblings Frank, Sophie, Annie, and Michael. We suffer the ups and down of young love as he courts Emma Mae. We meet the people he works for and the enemies he makes along the way. Stanley never loses hope, drive, and determination through the good times and the bad.

Heart of Steel is the true story of Stanley Miller and it is hard to find a more realistic tale that will touch you deeply. Kevin D. Miller has written of abuse, murder, prohibition, life on the farm, pain, suffering and joy with so much heart and feeling. I felt as though I was sharing a story with a friend and felt all of Stanley’s emotional ups and downs with him. I cried, I laughed, I worried and I couldn’t stop reading Heart of Steel because it is just a really good book. Heart of Steel covers so many genres and is good reading for the young, the old, male and female – just about everyone should read this book.

K.C. Finn

Heart of Steel is a work of historical fiction set in the early twentieth century and was penned by author Kevin D Miller. Based on true events which took place in the life of Kevin's ancestor, Stanley William Miller, the tale begins with tragedy for the twelve-year-old Stanley when he is sent running for the Sheriff with cries of murder ringing in his ears. We follow Stanley through America during the 1920s and '30s, through orphanages and growing up to attempting to face the world on his own. Abuse and heartache go hand in hand with love and hope in this inspiring family saga of triumph over hardship.

Author Kevin D Miller writes with great empathy and skill in this loving tribute to the true-life events of Stanley Miller and the struggles he went through. Though the tale is fictionalized and told through narrative perspectives, the authentic details of history and life at that time keep us grounded in firm reality, reminding us how very real Stanley’s problems were, even at their most harrowing and incredible. The organization of chapters is highly engaging to keep you reading on and on, eager for more details to unfold and new twists in Stanley’s life which we hope will lead him to eventual happiness. What results is an empowering narrative with very relatable characters and the full gamut of human emotions on display. Overall, Heart of Steel lives up to its strong, emotive title, and is certainly recommended for fans of historical family sagas and true to life tales of triumph over adversity.

Rabia Tanveer

Heart of Steel: Based on a True Story by Kevin D Miller is the story of a young man who fought tooth and nail to get the life he deserved and paved the way for a better future for family generations to come. Stanley was just a 12-year-old boy when his mother sent him to find the Sheriff and bring him to their house. Some men want something from his family and young Stanley has no idea what they want from them. Desperate and devastated, this one incident changed the life of Stanley and his siblings. All they wanted was a good life where they could be together, but when they found themselves in an orphanage, they wanted to escape as quickly as possible. Through the years, Stanley learns that there is more to life than just fighting to survive. Through the years Stanley finds love, a reason to fight for something completely different, and learns what it means to be really happy.

This was such a heartwarming novel for me. Stanley’s struggles, his emotions and his commitment to his family were simply wonderful. I had such a welcoming feeling while reading of his growth through his struggles and trying to make the best of the hand life had dealt him. I was in awe of how strong he was; he added so much depth to the story. I enjoyed how the author brought everything to life and, considering the fact that this is a debut novel, it is very commendable. The word choice, the amazing imagery, and the descriptive narrative were perfect for the story. I enjoyed it all immensely.

Grant Leishman

Heart of Steel: Based on a True Story by Kevin D Miller takes us back in time to rural Ohio in 1920, to the Puchalski farm just out of Southington, Ohio. Family patriarch George Puchalski, a Polish immigrant, has made a success of his “American Dream” as a respected businessman and farmer in the rural district. George, however, has his demons, with a wandering eye, a violent temper, and an alcoholic disposition, which are expressed with rage and violence against his wife and children. After one particularly violent episode in which his wife and daughter are both viciously beaten, the family is in turmoil. When George is murdered in his bed one night and his wife arrested for complicity in his murder, the five siblings suddenly find themselves orphans. It falls on twelve-year-old Stanley William Puchalski to step up and become a “little man” in order to protect his siblings from the abuses inherent in orphanages of the time. We follow Stanley’s rites of passage into adulthood as Stanley William Puchalski transforms himself into Stanley William Miller and the five children seek to put their violent past behind them forever.

Author Kevin D Miller has taken a gamble in writing about such a hidden and violent past from his ancestors. This is never an easy task as it is difficult to be objective when dealing with family histories, with so many sensitivities to be aware of. In Heart of Steel, Miller handles the difficult teenage years of his grandfather with clear pride but also tempered with an understanding that this young man, forced to grow up so early, was also stalked by demons similar to his father. He was able to give the character a wonderful balance between his big heart and his burgeoning wild side. I particularly loved the determination and courage Stanley showed in taking responsibility for his four siblings at such a tender age. The author’s pride in his grandfather’s courage shines through this book like a beacon, as does the love between his grandfather and grandmother. This story is one, first and foremost, of love – a mother’s love for her children that would drive her to commit an unspeakable act and the love of five siblings for each other and ultimately both of their parents. I thoroughly enjoyed the overarching theme of forgiveness that ran through the narrative. This is a fantastically easy book to read and one I would highly recommend to anyone who loves historical fiction and family drama, or simply anyone who loves a good tale, especially with a basis in fact.

R. Bartley

First, I like true stories, and this one was unexpected and familiar in some parts to me. That can be a book that I write someday.
You may need a box of tissues for sad as well as happy tears when reading this novel. I read this in two days, only because I had to force myself to close the book and finish the next day. It's hard to stop reading, I still want more. I found myself giggling out loud in a few funny parts. The descriptions of places, things, events were done in a manner to really be able to envision yourself being there. This story will definitely get your emotions going. Very well worth the time to read.

R. Bartley

X. Sharp

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This book hooked me from page 1. I had to force myself to stop reading at the end of the 1st night, and I finished it in 2 days. It was an emotional roller coaster. It had me laughing, crying and hoping for the best possible ending for this family.

Debra Lane

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Very compelling story
Wow! So compelling. I couldn’t put it down. The author draws you in and holds you to the end. Will make an excellent movie. Can’t wait for his next book!

Benjamin J. Miller

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One of the most harrowing and mind numbing family stories I’ve ever read.
A gritty family story which the content was difficult to handle. The author does a fantastic job of putting you in harrowing moments of family struggle, abuse, and heartache. The first chapter alone is a struggle to even imagine. Fantastic book that should eventually be turned into its own film.


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A Must Read!!!
This book is amazing! Though I’ve yet to finish because of my crazy work schedule, I’m in no rush due to the fact it’s like waiting for that new “episode” of your favorite show! Very well written and delivered. You literally begin feeling like you’re there! A+ #HeartofSteel

Jo P.

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Very well written, based on a true story, I found myself really engaged in the book and could not put it down until I finished it.
Make sure you have plenty of time once you start reading this book, you won’t want to put it down!

Kathy Morrell

Could not put the book down. So well written. Very descriptive, I felt like I was there. It left me wanting more. I highly recommend it.

Jennifer Terbush

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Could not put it down. I love historical fiction and biographies, so this was right up my alley!!

Happy Husband and Wife

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A Real Story About Real People
Personal reading
A real story about real people growing up in the toughest of situations. Love and survival.
An exciting, very descriptive and easy to read story that keeps you wondering, What's next".

Nikki M.

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Must Read!
This story is very well written and keeps you completely invested in the story. The fact that it’s based on true events makes it all that more intriguing.

LeAnne Murphy

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Great Read
This book is a great look and it is incredibly well written. Highly recommend to friends and family.

Patrice Lefebvre

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A Glimpse Into History
This book is quite different from my usual reading genres, but the storyline kept me turning pages, curious about what would happen next. Mr. Miller did a great job of showing his characters and the turmoil through their struggles.

Darlene D.

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An inspirational book of overcoming tragic events to a life of success and family
This is an incredible story of overcoming tragic events in life, to one of great success and creation of a family heritage. If you need inspiration in your life or even need to be reminded of your own personal blessings, I highly recommend this book. I expect to see it on the big screen one day. The author is a kind, honorable, family man as well.

Annette R.

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This story captured me from the first several pages and kept me engaged until the end. I cried, I laughed and felt sad and angry as I lived the story through the eyes of the protagonist. A most unusual story. True stories are my favorite stories to read. Highly recommend this book. You won't put it down.

Craig M.

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One of the best reads of the year. This novel written by K.D. Miller takes you through a 1920 rural Ohio true murder mystery that leaves you wanting for more. This book is a remarkable story of sacrifice and selfless love for mother and siblings that everyone needs to experience. Set aside enough time to read the entire book because you will not want to put it down. Looking forward to motion picture.

Kayla Krystin

Iconic! I heard about this book and felt compelled to read it! So glad I did, It took me on an emotional journey throughout the lifetime of the hero. Family love is most important!


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Great read, interesting story....was rooting for the family the whole way through. Glad they persevered and overcame to find happiness.

Frank Glenn

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Kevin Miller did a great job describing a positive outcome to youthful adversities. Focusing on the many challenges in the early 1920’s, he brings to light the importance of perseverance, love and family. A great read!

A True Story that Reads like a Novel

AK Amazon Verified Purchase
This historical biography is written so creatively it’s hard to believe it is the author’s first book. Bring a tissue, because this story will touch your heart. While the writing draws the reader in quickly and makes us care about the characters, it seems almost too strange to be true—yet it’s not. The title is apt; it is sometime hard to imagine the courage and determination the author’s grandfather had in overcoming the tragic events of his childhood. While this is a biographical exploration of a history the writer only learned about as an adult, we hope that Kevin Miller has more stories up his sleeve.


A Must Read!
I highly recommend this book! I honestly couldn’t put it down because I was continuous captivated by the characters and stories that paved the pathway for Stanley’s life. This family is made of steel. It’s their strong desire to stay together in the roughest times that leaves you inspired and emotionally impacted. It’s a story representing love, dedication along with endless and fearless ambition to make things better. I felt connected with the characters often thinking about them when i wasn’t reading. I was in awe with what the family went through and the author did an amazing job telling their heroic stories.

Linda Thompson The Author Show

Heart of Steele is one of those books that leaves you an emotional mess after you turn the final page. This heartfelt story is written by the grandson of Stanley Puchalski/Miller and what a story it is. Kevin Miller pulls out all the stops and pulls no punches when telling it like it must have happened. Told with heartfelt love of siblings and their mother, he writes as if he were walking in their footsteps and we are walking with him. I was captivated by the detail and how he set each scene. Raw, gritty and at times a bit bloody, I could not put it down until I reached the very last page. And at that last page, I had tears in my eyes. This is a book for the ages and it leaves one wondering just how many similar stories might be ferreted out if one were to just ask the right questions and look in the right closets. Read Heart of Steel – you won’t be disappointed.

Wonderful Book!

Amazon Customer
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Hear of Steel was an intense and gripping story. Once I picked it up, I couldn't put it down. The characters in the book were very well developed and it was an overall very engaging read. The fact that it is a true story makes it that much more interesting. To realize that someone actually lived this life was awe inspiring. I highly recommend this book!

Early Bird Books, MacKenzie Stuart

One day, author Kevin Miller discovered that his last name wasn’t Miller at all; it was Pulchalski. His grandfather, Stanley Pulchalski, changed his name in an attempt to reinvent himself after a family tragedy. Heart of Steel will take you back to the early morning hours of September 13, 1920, when events were set into motion that would reverberate into the present. At once a murder mystery, family drama, and sweeping romance, this book based on a true story is well worth the read.

GW Amazon

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A great story. Full of unexpected twists and the crazy part is it's based on a true life story. How individual choices a person makes not only shapes their own life, but, effects the people around them.

The book has a flow. It keeps you interested. Great drama, violence and emotion. Kudos to Kevin Miller for taking on this overwhelming project of family history turning into a very entertaining story.

Lindie's Indies Book Reviews

When leaving a review, I never divulge the story arc. I want the reader to experience, as I did, the excitement, the joy, the angst of reading each page. I read the book in one day. I did try to prolong the enjoyment by putting it down and going outside, but it kept calling me back. And like a piece of fine chocolate, I couldn’t resist. It is that good. Told with passion and vigor, the descriptive narrative of Heart of Steel is fresh and intense. An extremely powerful story which centers on twelve-year old Stanley Puchalski, the second oldest of five children, Heart of Steel is divided into three sections, and begins in the fall of 1920 on the Puchalski’s family farm in Southington, Ohio.
“There he is. Papa. Sitting at the table in his neatly pressed overalls. Always wearing that same stupid T-shirt with the torn collar. His cold blue eyes are mean and piercing. You don’t want to look him directly in the eye for too long. Not if you know what’s good for you.”
If anyone asks if Heart of Steel by Kevin D. Miller is a good book? The answer is simple. “Yes. One hundred times yes.”

LittleBit (Amazon)

This true story is heartbreaking, and yet triumphant at the same time. It is a graphic depiction of the devastating effects of an evil, alcoholic man and how his actions tore a family apart. His abuse of his children had far-reaching effects on their lives, not to mention his poor wife. What makes a man become so vile? Who can say? But his family paid a heavy price . But in the end, they found a way to forgive him, and were rewarded by finding love for themselves. It's a question we ask over and over, "Why do the innocent have to suffer?". And the only answer is because evil lives in the hearts of mankind in this world .

Claudia Oltean

July 5, 2020
Strong Story, Strong Storytelling
Author Kevin Miller delved deep into his untold family history to give us a story based on his grandfather’s harrowing childhood, and the man he became. Set in Ohio during the 1920's, “Heart of Steel” hits all the right notes of that period, a time of Prohibition in America. Miller pulls no punches with the dark side of events and does a masterful job blending fiction with fact. His characters are compelling and well-developed, and the dialogue is snappy, often fun. I read it in far into the night to find out what happens. A treat for fans of historical fiction set in the fascinating early 20th century, and those who enjoy novels based on true events.

Elizabeth M.

Fast-paced, intriguing family tale
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This novel was a great read. It held my attention from beginning to end. Every family has secrets, and this book starts with an abusive father, a murder, and then an escape from an orphanage. It's a tale of resiliency and reinvention. Despite our baggage, we can always choose to take a different path and make something of ourselves. Miller is a wonderful writer. He is great at characterization as well as fast-paced storytelling. I highly recommended this book and can't wait to read some of his other work.