(Cover picture courtesy of John Heldt’s blog.)
On September 11, 2020, Ginny and Katie Smith celebrate their nineteenth birthday at a country fair near Seattle. Ignoring the warnings of a fortune-teller, they enter a house of mirrors and exit in May 1964. Armed with the knowledge they need to return to their time, they try to make the most of what they believe will be a four-month vacation. But their sixties adventure becomes complicated when they meet a revered great-grandmother and fall in love with local boys. In THE MIRROR, the continuation of THE MINE and THE SHOW, the sisters find happiness and heartbreak as they confront unexpected challenges and gut-wrenching choices in the age of civil rights, the Beatles, and Vietnam.
[Full disclosure: I received a free ebook copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.]
When a great series like this comes to an end I’m always sad. But at least I can take solace in the fact that the Northwest Passage series ended on such a great note.
I liked seeing Ginny and Katie Smith (Joel and Grace’s twin daughters) travel through time just like their parents. They were interesting characters and I liked how John Heldt incorporated their distinct advantage into their characterization—their knowledge of time travel. Although they were sort of in denial at first, I liked how they quickly accepted the grim situation and made a plan of action to get back. I also loved how they tried not to affect the time stream but how sometimes their human nature got the better of them as they started forming relationships with the people around them. Each twin had a distinct personality so when the point of view switched it wasn’t very confusing.
As with all of the books in this great series, The Mirror is far more character-driven than plot-driven. It does have an interesting plot and it’s fascinating to see America in the era of Vietnam and the civil rights movement, but the characters are definitely the best part. The plot is a little slower than the previous books in the series by virtue of the fact that this one is longer but that wasn’t an impediment at all. If anything, it made The Mirror one of the better books in the series.
One of the downfalls of historical fiction is that it can paint a picture of an idealized time when in reality history wasn’t always sunshine and roses. I liked how the topic of cancer was approached, especially breast cancer. It really makes you think how lucky we are to live in a world where there are far more treatment options and a much higher survival rate. What really struck a cord with me was the topic of interracial relationships. Ginny and James had a wonderful relationship and I was saddened (but not surprised) at the reaction of most people to a black man dating a white girl. Some people still react this way today (my community is unfortunately proof of this) but it’s nice to see that as a society we’ve at least made some progress.
Essentially, if you’ve read the previous four books in the Northwest Passage series you’ll absolutely love The Mirror. It’s got an authentic historical feel, well-developed characters and a plot that’ll have you guessing at every turn. I’m sad to say goodbye to the series but I’m glad that John Heldt chose to end it this way.
I give this book 5/5 stars.