Note: I received a digital copy of The Mine from the author for review consideration.
Time travel historical fiction! I love it. Of course, there’s To Say Nothing of the Dog, and next week I’ll be posting another time travel historical fiction review. There’s just something about the juxtaposition of old and new, history and future, that captivates me. So, on to the story!
Here is the summary, sent to me by the author:
In May 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 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 alter 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.
Joel is a likable guy, despite his cockiness, and he does what he can to help his newfound friends. He struggles with making decisions to either protect his new friends or to allow history to run its course. These choices are made more difficult by the fact that Joel is interfering in his own grandmother’s life, when he knows very well that her first fiance was killed while serving in WWII. When Joel falls in love with a beautiful college girl named Grace, he starts to feel like he might be able to create a new life in his new time period. He becomes a fantastic furniture salesman, and he uses his knowledge of sports history to make a lot of money betting on the outcome of games. But when he finds out that he might be able to return to the future, Joel has to make some hard decisions. And I must say, I was so happy with the ending of this book! (But some will probably think it wraps things up too neatly.)
As with the other time travel historical fiction books I’ve been reading lately, The Mine doesn’t focus so much on the mechanics of time travel (it has something to do with the planets aligning), but focuses more on the history of the time period in which the time traveler arrives. As this takes place in the summer of 1942, right before the events of Pearl Harbor occur, things are uneasy at best, but as our protagonists are college students, they still make time to see movies, go to baseball games, take weekend trips to the mountains, and fall in love. Joel’s new friends (or really, his grandmother’s friends) are caring and open, reflective of a simpler time, but we and Joel know that that simplicity will soon be gone, that the guy who took Joel in and helped him get a job will soon be drafted; that the Japanese girl will soon be a victim to anti-Japanese sentiment in the United States; that Joel’s grandmother will soon go through the loss of her fiance. Joel has to struggle with the morals of letting his friends suffer and even die versus intervening in the course of history and possibly causing huge changes in his own future. I really enjoyed that. There was just enough romance, just enough history, and just enough struggle to keep things interesting but enjoyable. Definitely recommended!
(And be sure to check back next week if you’re interested in another time travel historical fiction book that deals with some of these same decisions, but for kids!)
Rating: Pretty Darn Good