Seattle, 2010. When her entrepreneur husband dies in an accident, Michelle Preston Richardson, 48, finds herself childless and directionless. She yearns for the simpler days of her youth, before she followed her high school sweetheart down a road that led to limitless riches but little fulfillment, and jumps at a chance to reconnect with her past at a class reunion. But when Michelle returns to Unionville, Oregon, and joins three classmates on a spur-of-the-moment tour of an abandoned mansion, she gets more than she asked for. She enters a mysterious room and is thrown back to 1979.
Distraught and destitute, Michelle finds a job as a secretary at Unionville High, where she guides her spirited younger self, Shelly Preston, and childhood friends through their tumultuous senior year. Along the way, she meets widowed teacher Robert Land and finds the love and happiness she had always sought. But that happiness is threatened when history intervenes and Michelle must act quickly to save those she loves from deadly fates. Filled with humor and heartbreak, THE JOURNEY gives new meaning to friendship, courage, and commitment as it follows an unfulfilled soul through her second shot at life.
I loved this 60 chapter book. It was told through Shelly’s third person point-of-view and Michelle’s third person point-of-view, each rotating chapters. What if you were transported back to your high school days and got to relive your life again? Had a chance to meet the younger version of yourself and see the people who had died along the way? Man, I don’t know what I’d do, but I respected that Michelle took charge to make sure she made a positive influence on people’s lives so they could rethink mistakes made in the past. I liked the shout-out to The Mine character’s Joel and his mom meeting Michelle.
I thought it was sad when Michelle reflected on her life after her husband Scott passed away. She had missed the opportunity to become an author. Since that’s my dream, I couldn’t imagine letting someone stop me. I enjoyed hearing about Writer’s Market and other writer terminology through her perspective.
My favorite lines: 1) There was a lot to remember when you lived a lie. 2) Sometimes the right answers come in unusual packages. 3) Michelle sat up and shifted her eyes from one tablemate to another, as if searching for a source of sanity. She came up empty. 4) I knew her better than anyone and she was still a mystery.
John A. Heldt did a wonderful job with imagery, especially with metaphors. I thought they were really original, and I loved the humor throughout the novel. He also has a great talent with writing romance. The way he built up Michelle and Robert’s relationship was engaging and sweet. I really rooted for them. I also loved how the story focused on Shelly and her friends, April and Brian, trying to search for true love in school. He made me root for all the characters to have a happy ending. My favorite aspect was the friendship dynamic. There were positive female friendships instead of girls being catty with one another. A refreshing change.
My favorite scenes: 1) in the classroom, Robert asked Michelle out on a date 2) in present day, Michelle hung out with her old friends at the class reunion; they were funny together 3) when Michelle realized Brian had a crush on Shelly. The reveal was cute 4) when Michelle met her dad and fainted 5) when Michelle and Shelly first met in the school office
I wish I could discuss the ending because that was my favorite part too. I’ll just say that Michelle was my favorite character, and I thought she was really brave. The last few chapters made me cry, which I happened to be sitting at a table in a busy coffee shop.
I RECOMMEND this book to read.