Heart of Steel

Based on a True Story

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

Mike

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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

Riveting!
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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Captivating!
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.