The Mine (Northwest Passage Book 1)
John A. Heldt
In May 2000, Joel Smith is a cocky, adventurous young man who sees the world as his playground. But when the college senior, days from graduation, enters an abandoned Montana mine, he discovers the price of reckless curiosity. He emerges in May 1941 with a cell phone he can't use, money he can't spend, and little but his wits to guide his way. Stuck in the age of swing dancing and a peacetime draft, Joel begins a new life as the nation drifts toward war. With the help of his 21-year-old trailblazing grandmother and her friends, he finds his place in a world he knew only from movies and books. But when an opportunity comes to return to the present, Joel must decide whether to leave his new love in the past or choose a course that will alter their lives forever. THE MINE is a love story that follows a humbled man through a critical time in history as he adjusts to new surroundings and wrestles with the knowledge of things to come.
I would like to thank John A. Heldt himself for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review. I really enjoyed this one!
OK so you read the synopsis and you get the gist: College boy, Joel Smith, stumbles back in time to 1941. Being the adventure loving you-only-live-once kind of guy he is, he decides to stick around and take in some history, promising himself that he won’t alter anything.
Joel travels from Montana to his hometown of Seattle as a train hopping vagabond, where chance leads him to meet and befriend his tenacious 21 year old grandmother’s boyfriend. Joel is quickly taken in by his new friend’s family and circle of friends and soon settles in to his new “life” in 1941. Success at his new job and with a couple of “lucky” bids on fights and sporting events, Joel has money to spend and spends it lavishly on his new friends. Weekend getaways, boardwalks, movies, parties, boating; Joel is having the time of his life. His friendship with Tom, Ginny, Linda, Katie, and Grace are forged deeper and Joel seems to lose himself in the Time more than once. Then Joel finds himself in love with Grace and his world turns on its head. Knowing that he’s breaking the promise he made to himself not to alter anything, Joel now struggles with the knowledge of his new friends’ futures (the bombing of Pearl Harbor is on the horizon),
and his desire to stay and be with Grace and his need to go back to his own time. (There is so much more I want to put in this paragraph, but I’m barely keeping it spoiler free as it is).
A YOLO attitude or not, Joel is an intelligent character and I expected him to be a little more conflicted about the implications of time travel. He definitely understood that he could drastically change the future, possibly even leading to births and deaths to take place that shouldn’t (or vice versa), but he rarely reflected on this. This could, of course, be explained away by blinding, passionate love which caused him to throw caution to the wind, but that was really only implied. I could feel that Joel was very fond of Grace, but I didn’t feel the passion that you would expect when someone is risking the future - even their very own existence (until the very end. I felt it at the very end and my heart melted). This is only reason I didn’t give the book 5 stars. The writing, the setting, the characters, the plot – everything was great. I just needed more inner turmoil, reflection, and emotion from the main character.
Overall, I absolutely loved The Mine and will definitely pick up more reads by John A. Heldt.
John A. Heldt is the author of the critically acclaimed Northwest Passage and American Journey series. The former reference librarian and award-winning sportswriter has loved getting subjects and verbs to agree since writing book reports on baseball heroes in grade school. A graduate of the University of Oregon and the University of Iowa, Heldt is an avid fisherman, sports fan, home brewer, and reader of thrillers and historical fiction. When not sending contemporary characters to the not-so-distant past, he weighs in on literature and life at johnheldt.blogspot.com.