Review: The Mine by John Heldt

The Mine
Image from John Heldt; used by permission

Title: The Mine (Northwest Passage #1)

Author: John A. Heldt

Genre: Historical

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.

I debated for a while on whether or not to read this book. Time travel is a subject that I either love or I hate, there’s very little in between. I think what finally convinced me to give it a chance was the decade. I don’t know much about the early forties, but after taking a modern U.S. history class last semester, I’m much more interested in the 1920s-50s era.

I loved Joel. He was friendly and upbeat and witty and basically the kind of guy I’d love to have as a friend. Part of me admired him, part of me wanted to act like him, part of me wished he was real so I could be his girlfriend, and all of me loved reading about him.

The other characters were awesome, too. Quiet and sweet Grace, the girl Joel falls for; lighthearted and friendly Tom, Joel’s first friend in the forties;  bold and independent Ginny, Tom’s girlfriend (and Joel’s grandmother)… there was a pretty large cast of minor characters, too, and they were all great.

The plot actually had very little to do with time travel. Joel ends up in the forties, but then the entire book is him navigating the decade starting with nothing and his relationships with Tom, Grace, and various other characters. It was more historical than sci-fi (hence my genre categorization), and I don’t think I’d have enjoyed it nearly as much if I hadn’t loved Joel.

I would have thought that being the forties, the morals would have been a little stricter than they were. Admittedly, I don’t know much about the decade. Nothing was explicit, but I expected a lot less impropriety.

I loved The Mine more than I expected I would…or I just really liked Joel. Either way, I completely enjoyed the story. It was totally worth the read. And I’m looking forward to reading The Journey, the next book in the series.

The Northwest Passage series:

  1. The Mine
  2. The Journey
  3. The Show
  4. The Fire
  5. The Mirror

I received a free review copy of The Mine from the author. His generosity in no way influenced, or sought to influence, this review.

Report Card

For more on my grading system, please see my About page.

THE MINE scored a 3.3 (B)


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