(Cover picture courtesy of Goodreads.)
In 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.
I know what you’re thinking: “Another time travel romance. Are you kidding me?”
How do I know that? Well, I was thinking the exact same thing when I read the blurb John Heldt gave me when he asked me to review his novel. I was really skeptical when I started reading because the reason Joel time travelled was a planetary alignment. A planetary alignment for crying out loud! With a premise like that, could The Mine possibly be salvaged?
Pretty much all of the clichés you’ll find are in the beginning of the novel. What sets The Mine apart from a lot of time travel is that Joel, the protagonist, actually knows something about 1940s America and works hard to hide the fact he’s from the future. This is a huge contrast to the bumbling, secret-spilling protagonists who know nothing about the era that seem to populate every time travel novel.
Joel is a great main character: resourceful and intelligent but wracked by guilt when he has to hide his knowledge of upcoming tragedies. Despite his best efforts, he grows attached to his adopted family and even falls in love. Not Insta-Love, mind you, but real love that takes time to develop.
Despite the admittedly shaky start, John Heldt pulled things together in fine fashion. And the ending plot twist was actually unexpected because of the tone of the writing, but was highly satisfying. The climax was so heartbreaking that I was tearing up, but managed not to dissolve into hysterics like I did at the end of Flowers for Algernon.
So if you like romance, historical fiction and/or amazing characters, I would highly recommend this self-published novel.
I give this book 4/5 stars.