Book Review: The Mine By John A. Heldt

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 altar 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.

I loved this 70 chapter book. Joel, Ginny, Grace, and Tom were my favorite characters. Their friendship dynamic was cool, and the sense of humor in the book made me laugh. I’m a huge fan of the “what if” scenario, so I thought of how I’d get along if I was transported back into the 1940’s. Joel was from 2000, trespassed into an abandoned mine, then entered 1941. Being a charming guy and one to think swiftly on his feet, he managed very well.

My favorite lines: 1) He had an encyclopedic mind, the curiosity of an inventor, and the judgment and discipline of a three-year-old.  2) Sensing an opportunity to clear the air, he pressed ahead with the kind of candor that would make their relationship or break it. 3) Her thirty-six months at the university were less a full educational experience than a frustrating self imposed exile. 4) What sane woman traded love and security for a stranger who would not even come clean about his past?

There were a couple of parts in the story that made me shed a tear. One of their friends, Katie, was a Japanese character. I kept thinking how drastically her life would change once World War II started. Plus, it was sad how the young men in the story wanted to get married and start a career after college graduation, but they were drafted into war. Most scared. Had no choice in the matter. I especially felt bad for Tom.

The author had a brilliant talent with setting. He was so descriptive that I could picture the story vividly in my head–like a movie. I thought of The Notebook while reading this because the way Grace and Joel’s relationship blossomed was so sweet and romantic. I appreciated that even though the characters accepted and liked Joel, they still were suspicious that he never mentioned his past. That at times they caught him in a lie. I also liked how history facts were revealed throughout the narration when Joel would know what would happen in the future but the other people didn’t have a clue. I loved that he felt the need to keep his identity a secret; it made for great inner-conflict scenes.

My favorite scenes: 1) whenever Joel would visit Grace in the library 2) Joel and Grace’s picnic date at the park 3) when Joel realizes that Ginny is his grandmother 4) when everyone says goodbye to Tom before he heads off to train for the war 5) the twist at the end (can’t give it away)

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

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