The Journey by John A. Heldt
Book 2 in The Northwest Passage series
E-book, 242 pages
Self-Published by John A. Heldt
November 3, 2012
Genre: Historical Fiction (sort of), Time Travel
Source: Received from the author for review
“Seattle, 2010. When her entrepreneur husband dies in an accident, Michelle Preston Richardson, 48, finds herself childless and directionless. She yearns for the simpler days of her youth, before she followed her high school sweetheart down a road that led to limitless riches but little fulfillment, and jumps at a chance to reconnect with her past at a class reunion. But when Michelle returns to Unionville, Oregon, and joins three classmates on a spur-of-the-moment tour of an abandoned mansion, she gets more than she asked for. She enters a mysterious room and is thrown back to 1979.
Distraught and destitute, Michelle finds a job as a secretary at Unionville High, where she guides her spirited younger self, Shelly Preston, and childhood friends through their tumultuous senior year. Along the way, she meets widowed teacher Robert Land and finds the love and happiness she had always sought. But that happiness is threatened when history intervenes and Michelle must act quickly to save those she loves from deadly fates. Filled with humor and heartbreak, The Journey gives new meaning to friendship, courage, and commitment as it follows an unfulfilled soul through her second shot at life.”
I have to start by getting two things out of the way – 1st: I’m not a huge fan of time travel stories, but this one worked for me. 2nd: Don’t take the fact that it is self-published as a sign it is a lesser work. I know a lot of people shy away from self-published works, but John A. Heldt seems to have a solid hand at fiction writing.
While this doesn’t technically fit in the genre of historical fiction, as the bulk of the story takes place in 1979, it’s still before my time that I’m going to classify it as such.
The Journey is the 2nd book in The Northwest Passage series; however it has an entirely different cast of characters (a pint sized Joel from The Mine does appear for a brief scene). And while we again find a person from the new millennium transported back to the past via a strange portal we do not encounter a rehashing of the style of The Mine. Whereas in The Mine Joel is transported back to a time before he was born, Michelle is transported back into her own past, when she was a senior in high school. This brings on a whole new set of dilemmas for a time-traveler. I was glad to see that Michelle freaks out about learning she is in the past and honestly tries to return home (something I found Joel to lack). And whereas in The Mine Joel actively tried to avoid changing the past, Michelle tries to right some of the things that went wrong in her senior year. However we do see the time-travel-ism of how changing one event can lead to a different chain of events.
It was also extremely interesting to see how Michelle would interact with her younger self, Shelly, and vice versa. We do get to see things from both Michelle and Shelly’s perspective. Obviously, no one is going to expect that someone they meet has time traveled, but Shelly questions things as she gets to know Michelle because she seems very familiar to her.
I think that this could be a good novel for a YA audience as well as a general adult audience. For teens it would be an easy introduction to the historical genre because the time period isn’t that far removed from what they know but still before their time and several of the main characters are high-schoolers dealing with high-school problems that today’s teens still face. It also has the time-travel element which might catch the attention of those who are neck deep in the supernatural.
If I thought that The Mine tugged at my heartstrings, The Journey pulled them apart. This was such a tear-jerker and I couldn’t believe the ending. Not only did I not see the event coming, but I couldn’t believe what actually happened. Another highly recommended read for 2013.
Author John A. Heldt also has written The Mine (book 1) and is currently working on The Show (book 3). You can visit John’s blog for additional information about the book. If you would like to preview the story before reading it, you can read a sample of chapter 1 on the Amazon page.
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