The Mine by John A. Heldt
Reviewed by Julia Flowers writing as A. T. Weaver
Finally, I’ve been given a book to review in a genre I know and love.
“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 Whirlaway, 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 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.”
* * *
It took me a while to get into this story. At first it follows the normal ‘time-travel’ format. Someone from the current century enters some type of vortex and ends up in another time and place. Although Joel Smith may still be in the same place; it’s fifty-nine years ago, when the rest of the world was at war and America had yet to enter it.
The author’s attention to the clothing, attitudes, and sights of a bygone era is nothing short of spectacular. From his descriptions of the cars to the dresses (and hats) of the women of a pre-war America he paints a picture straight from the pages of history. He’s paid special attention to the locale of Seattle and the style of buildings and businesses.
Joel’s struggle to keep from altering history is evident when he meets his grandmother and wonders about the fact she is dating a man not his grandfather. He uses his knowledge of future events, particularly sporting events, to increase the wealth of himself and his new friends.
I was soon caught up in Joel’s anxiety as he falls in love and debates what to do. I was kept on the edge of my chair. I couldn’t decide if I wanted him to stay or bring Grace back to this century with him.
The ending pleased me very much.
I was glad to see this is the first of a series and look forward to reading the other books.
John A. Heldt is a reference librarian and the author of THE MINE, THE JOURNEY, THE SHOW, and THE FIRE, the first four novels of the critically acclaimed Northwest Passage time-travel series. The former award-winning sportswriter and newspaper editor 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, he 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.