Finding a new favorite book is one of life's greatest pleasures. I just finished THE MINE by John Heldt and have that bittersweet feeling you have when you reach the last page of a great story.
The year is 2000 and Joel Smith is a couple weeks away from graduating college in Seattle. On a road trip to Montana with a friend, Smith enters a mine for a little spelunking. But when he reappears, it's the year 1941, six months before Pearl Harbor. Unable to find his friend, he makes his way back to Seattle looking for a life that won't be there for another 60 years. He ends up meeting a close group of friends, including the woman he knows will one day be his grandmother. As he continues to live in a time that's not his own, he learns what's really important in life. He also struggles with the ethical dilemmas of knowing what will happen in the future, ranging from the mundane occurences, like betting on a fight he knows the outcome of, to world events that will have a devastating impact on his friends. The question of whether or not he can go back to his time weighs heavily upon him, as does the effect he'll have on so many interconnected lives.
Heldt is an excellent storyteller, with an unerring sense of pacing. The characters he's created are real, three-dimensional people and you have a vested interest in the impact Joel could have on them, should he choose to speak up. Heldt also does an excellent job of painting a vivid picture of the times. From a small town in Montana in the present day to pre-war Seattle, the history comes alive in this book.
I also did something I only do in books that really grab hold of me....I snuck ahead to read the end of the book, while I was still only 40% done. It's a sign of how much I care for the characters that I needed to know how they ended up.
I really look forward to his next book and highly recommend this.