‘The Mine (Northwest Passage #1)’ by John A. Heldt is the compelling story of Joel Smith who, despite his ordinary name, begins an extraordinary journey which inadvertently changes the lives of a tight group of friends in 1941. This is a bit of a problem for Joel. He’s from the year 2000. Quickly adapting to his new life, Joel finds himself falling for a woman from a different time. He soon realizes that he must make a difficult decision: go back to the time to which he belongs, or stay with the woman he loves and change the lives of those who have yet to be born.
At first this novel seems to be a new take on concepts we have seen in both film and literature. Reminiscent of ‘Back to the Future’ (which is referenced multiple times within the novel), ‘The Mine’ explores the theory of time travel and its consequences on those both in the past and future. On the other hand, it reminds me of the movie ‘Somewhere in Time,’ a poignant film about the type of love which spans decades. It soon becomes clear that while ‘The Mine’ is a story about time travel, it is something so much more. Heldt did a wonderful job writing a novel which draws out deep emotions and explores various aspects of what it means to have a fulfilling life. On one hand, Joel is soon to graduate which many view as an important milestone. Yet he is tempted to risk it all for the love of his life.
What impressed me was how easily I was transported back to 1941, a time when America is on the brink of war and Glenn Miller is the ‘bee’s knees.’ Heldt clearly did his research, which showed through his beautiful description of the world Joel has found himself in. ‘The Mine’ employs the clever tactic of ridiculously short chapters, one which worked extremely well on me and had me constantly telling myself I would only read “one more chapter.” There are few novels which stray from the predictable model, and I am happy to say that ‘The Mine’ is one of them. Just when all hope is lost, Heldt shows us the power of true love, and the power of his lovely and descriptive writing.