The Mine

The Mine - John A. Heldt The Mine starts with Joel and his friend Adam on a road trip. On their way home, they make several stops including one at an old, abandoned mine. Joel wants to explore inside the mine, Adams waits outside. When an unexpected aligning of the planets creates a time-travel hole deep within the mine, Joel unknowningly exits the mine to find 1941 waiting for him. His friend is gone. His cell phone doesn't work. His clothes are extremely out of place. And his money is dated in the future. He must find a way to survive in this new (old) time while trying not to disturb anyone's past or future and figuring out a way to get back home. But when he meets a family that takes him in, finds a job that he's good at, and meets friends that feel like home, would he even want to go home if he could?I have no problem being honest here and saying that the beginning of this book was a real struggle for me to get through. Before entering the mine, I wasn't a fan of Joel or his friend Adam. Neither had any quality that really made me like them or particularly care about them, so I had a hard time reading to find out what happened to them. When Joel finally emerges from the mine, there is an almost immediate change in him. He is no longer reckless but careful. He doesn't want anything disturbed or changed by his actions. He also knows he doesn't have all the answers anymore. He isn't an almost college graduate, he's a lost, homeless, broke young man who doesn't seem to be able to catch a break. I liked the new Joel a whole lot better. And his new friends.The times with his new friends were easily the best parts of the book for me. Aside from being the bulk of the book, these characters had depth, emotions, background stories, and connections to Joel's future. I felt immersed in their stories and invested in their outcomes. I also loved that we were able to see Joel's grandmother as a young woman. We've all wondered what our grandparents were like when they were younger and Joel got to see that firsthand. And he respected her, both as the young woman he was friends with and as his grandmother who passed away when he was a teenager. We also see him struggle when his friends talk about the draft and the likelihood of war. He knows Pearl Harbor will happen, he knows not all of his friends will not make it through. And when he falls for a girl, can he sit by and let her go or will he step in an let her know how he feels? How much is he willing to change?I do admit that I was surprised by how easily Joel seemed to give up his life at home. He had a family, a best friend, a girlfriend, and was just about to graduate college, but he never seemed to grieve any of them. I wasn't sure if I should envy him for his ability to move on and deal with his present situation or feel sorry that he wasn't more attached to anyone back home. In the end, though, it didn't matter much to me. He showed plenty of emotions later on and really struggled with some of his later decisions. He felt much more real to me in the second half than the first.The Mine is a book with a slow start. It took a while to feel a connection to the main character and about half of the book before I really wanted to know what was going to happen to him and his new friends. I was surprised by some of his actions, considering how much they could have affected so many lives in the future. But what would I have done for love? In the end, he had to decide between love and the futures he knew his friends should have. And I have to say, the struggle in the beginning was totally worth it. The end of the book was moving, emotional, beautifully written, and heartbreaking. You'll have to read it to find out which course Joel takes. If you are a fan of historical fiction or romance, I suggest you give this book a try. I gave The Mine four stars.