Book Format: epub (provided by author)
Release Date: February 12, 2012
Purchase Links: Nook l Kindle
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.
The Mine has its ups and downs but in the end it comes off as a truly entertaining, adventure mixed with historical fact and sprinkled with a dash of romance. College senior Joel Smith is inadvertently cast as the protagonist in this exciting, time traveling story, so one could call him the reluctant protagonist. He's just a regular guy who finds himself on an irregular journey that anyone can relate to. I don't know if author John Heldt intended Joel to come across as such, but there it is.
Now before you go thinking "Eh, this is just another time traveling sci-fi book, I'll pass" let me just say, The Mine has emotional side. It's not just some college hotshot time traveling and having the time of his life. Joel knows a lot of the people he meets, he knows what is going to happen or not going to happen to them in the future and he is powerless to stop it. As the reader, I began to get attached to these people, just like Joel did even against my better judgement. Author John Heldt didn't write a story about some hot shot college kid that time travels, he wrote a well thought out story with human emotions. Joel isn't some unfeeling, punk kid that doesn't learn from his experiences, sure Joel starts off as your typical college kid but he grows as a character. He comes to truly care for Grace, Katie and Tom which makes it that much harder for him not to interfere with the past. How many people can honestly say that they wouldn't at least try to rewrite their own history or that of a loved one?
While at the beginning, The Mine starts off as an adventure and is all fun and games, it later develops into a deeper, more meaningful story that becomes harder and harder to put down. There is a sadness and finality to Joel's visit to the past, you just know what he's going to have to do and you're drawn into his emotional conflict of whether or not to leave the past and return to the future when he has found so much love, acceptance and life in 1941.
The love story between Joel and Grace was just one of those ones you know is doomed to fail, they're from different times, literally but they're just so perfect together that you can only hope they'll find some way to end up with a happy ever after. I held my breath towards the end because I wanted, more than anything for Joel to find happiness in the present, even though it was hopeless as he was desperately in love with Grace and she was in the past. The suspend and angst I felt in the last 50 or so pages was unexpected, John Heldt, you put me through an emotional ringer in only 50 pages and I loved it!!!
Overall, The Mine may sound like your everyday, run of the mill time traveling story but it is actually the emotional journey of one young man who learns about life, love, hard work and what's really important. I ended up liking it more than I thought I would.
And read my interview with John here!