Cliché time travel plots seem to plague the literary world, but The Mine by John A. Heldt was a refreshing take on an often overused story line.
In 2000, Joel Smith is a 20-year-old geology major from Seattle visiting Montana who decides to explore an abandoned mine, and gets sent back in time to 1941 because of a strange alignment of the planets. With only the clothes on his back and present-day cash he cannot use, Joel jumps a train to Seattle and makes friends with local college student, Tom Carter, after he saves him from a beating by some debt collectors. Joel ends up staying with Tom’s family, getting a lucrative job from Tom’s father, and becoming a popular member of Tom’s social circle.
The book has several delightful twists: Joel makes friends with a 20-year-old version of his grandmother and has a fluffy romance with a beautiful girl named Grace Vandenberg. However, Joel has to decide whether to use his knowledge of the future to save Tom’s life, and as the planets align again, whether he can leave his one true love for a future that is starting to seem farther and farther away.
The Mine is laugh-out-loud funny, and the characters are likable. I was entertained when Joel, an avid sports fan, knows several key sports victories from 1941 and bets on them to win easy money. Heldt is successful in keeping the book authentic and true to the time period. The book is an easy read, but lags in the middle and seems almost too simple at times.
Indeed, one of the things that bothered me about this book was its cookie-cutter perfectness. All the characters are unrealistically flawless: Joel can fight off three men, is a ladies’ man, a superb employee; Grace is beautiful, brilliant, and acts like “America’s sweetheart”. Joel’s transition and emotional reaction to being transported decades back in time is also a little too calm and effortless.
If you’re looking for a good airplane novel or just an enjoyable quick-read, at a little less than 269 pages The Mine mixes a little bit of sci-fi with romance and pulls it off rather well.
Maria Tews is a high school student in Northeastern Connecticut. Maria loves reading, writing, and a hot cup of tea.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by John A. Heldt. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.