The Mine (Northwest Passage #1)
By John A. Heldt
Publisher: 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 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 received a copy of The Mine from the author. These are my own, honest thoughts.
This is a difficult review. I am struggling with several issues currently, as I type this. I am at a loss as far as what genre I feel this book actually belongs to. If you pull it up on Goodreads, you are certain to find various labels: Sci-Fi/Time Travel, Historical Fiction, Fiction, Romance, Fantasy. I have chosen to go with fiction and romance for the time being. While there is definitely the occurrence of time travel, I still am unable to refer to this as science fiction since I feel the actual event of time travel was a small occurrence.
Therein lies my next challenge. I preemptively approached The Mine as a time travel story, anticipating a heavy sci-fi aspect with a dash of love. What I received was the opposite. Love with a hint of sci-fi. So I feel that I was a bit biased and may not have allowed myself to accept this one as openly as I should have. I know, that is unfair, but it is the truth. This story was not what I expected, so I was disappointed, through no fault of the book’s or author’s. That being said, I did eventually begin to warm up to this “love story”.
Our protagonist happens to be a young, likable gentleman by the name of Joel. He is an all around, good guy who happens to find himself in a less than ideal situation. As a college student studying geology, it is no surprise that while on a road trip with his friend, he decides to stop and explore an abandoned mine. But as fate would have it, due to planetary alignment, this mine becomes a temporary portal back in time to 1941. Alone and with very few resources, Joel slowly must build a new life during a year of impending war, as it becomes apparent he will not be returning home any time soon. He soon finds himself falling in love and must ultimately make a very difficult decision.
I am not sure how many times I have expressed my feeling on love stories. Very seldom am I am able to enjoy them. I have always struggled with the genre. For this very reason, I normally refrain from agreeing to review titles that are heavy with romance. I find it extremely unfair to post a review of someone’s hard work, if I know going into it that it will most likely not be for me. It is kind of like ordering a hamburger when I know I want a steak. I am going to feel let down. But if you can sell me a hamburger that tastes like steak, you have accomplished something incredible. Congratulations John A. Heldt. I am completely sold on The Mine. While it is a love story, I enjoyed every single moment of it once I was able to overcome my initial expectations.
Putting aside all misconceptions and letting down my barriers, I discovered this is a gracefully written story that carefully mixes components of romance and historical fiction with traces of science fiction into an engaging and charming book. While there were points where I felt that Joel’s story stalled occasionally, the brief chapters helped ensure that the overall pace was steady, providing an easy read.
The setting was a major plus for me. Living in Portland, I am very familiar with Seattle, which is where the majority of this story actually unfolds. You thought it was Montana, didn’t you 😉 It was fascinating to travel back to 1941 with real elements of history included. Occurring just before Pearl Harbor, the author manages to paint a convincing picture of a time past. I found this part of The Mine to be intriguing. Supporting characters were convincing and appealing. Just enough background and depth is provided to keep you engaged and concerned while avoiding too many frivolous details.
The end result was a beautiful story of love with a conclusion the had me shedding a few tears. I feel that as much as I enjoyed this story, it is deserving of a more ideal audience to receive the fullest appreciation. I would happily read another title by John A. Heldt. This one will likely please fans of The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger and similar reads.
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 1/5