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 premise of this story was very intriguing and thought provoking to me. What if you went back in time, fell in love with your new life, and then had the chance to return to your real life? I love it when a book has the ability to make one ponder such possibilities, and in such a well written way.
I enjoyed the book from the first page, and immediately got the sense of knowing Joel and his lifestyle. It was a refreshing change of pace to have a male as the main character in this kind of historical romance. I have to give props to the writer for pulling off the story in such a way that any woman could easily sink her teeth into it, yet not making it so 'sappy' that a man would refrain from reading it. That's a delicate balance to try and create, and the author has done a fine job of that.
By the description, one might think this book lands more on the sci-fi spectrum, but I would classify this as a historical romance, or historical fiction. While the time travel aspect is there, and rather interesting, it doesn't delve so deep that it reads like a sci-fi.
This story has a wonderful cast of characters. The author describes (and shows) them to us effortlessly. There were many laugh out loud, touching, and page-turning scenes. The author also, well, is just a darn good writer. He uses some wonderful prose throughout the book that surely any reader would appreciate. He is a talented writer, but naturally. Never does the writing feel forced, or as if he's trying too hard. It flows, tastefully, through every scene.
Overall this was a really great read for me. If time and life had allowed, I would have loved to read this book in one sitting because the story just draws you in so quickly. With each scene you're anxious to see what happens next, and I found myself sneaking in a page or two whenever I had the chance. This was a very well written book, one that I'm glad I spent the time reading, and would read again. Heldt is a talented guy, there's no denying that, and I look forward to seeing what comes next from him.
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About the Author:
John A. Heldt is a reference librarian who lives and works in Montana. The former award-winning sportswriter and newspaper editor has loved reading and writing since writing book reports on baseball heroes in grade school. A graduate of both the University of Oregon and University of Iowa, he is an avid fisherman, sports fan, home brewer, and reader of thrillers and historical fiction. THE MINE is his first novel.
Check out Heldt's blog here.