Monday, February 11, 2013

Book review: The Journey, by John A. Heldt

Today I'll present you my review of "The Journey" by John A. Heldt. The book was provided to me by the author for review purposes.

SynopsisSeattle, 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.

This the second book of the Northwest Passage series and also the second book I've reviewed by this author. Every book has a vibe, be it scary, suspenseful, or sad. This one hits you straight in the heart, and I am quite a fan of time traveling stories. Heldt is a talented writer, and his descriptions and scene transitions are very smooth and enjoyable. I never find myself bored no matter how simplistic the scene. I'm impressed that he was able to craft such a likeable and realistic female as Michelle Preston. She found herself widowed, unaccomplished and somewhat sad, so she decided to attend her high school reunion where she rekindled memories with some old pals. They decided to go on an adventure to an old spooky mansion, and after daring to enter a dark room, Michelle finds herself in '79 when she gets scared and runs back through the same door she thought she had come from. 

She stumbled around confused, noticing all the landmarks that were there just minutes before had changed completely, and she soon realized she had been sucked into a time warp. She was her adult self but had jumped back to her high school years. The way it happened seemed so possible! It made me wonder if I stumbled through a time portal and ended up decades away from my current year, what would I do? Michelle handled herself well, and thought of just about everything. She remembered an aunt who had passed away and whose identity she could "borrow" for the time being. Her shock at seeing her father at his shop and finally meeting her younger self after getting a job at the high school was a superb scenario. She befriend "Shelly," her younger self, and inspired her to be braver than she ever was and inspired her to pursue better options in life.

The story flowed nicely, and Heldt skillfully made me feel what the characters were feeling. I kept thinking, "what if." There wasn't a whole lot of twists and turns, which is what made it realistic. That's a nice flavor for someone who reads a whole lot of fantasy and sci-fi. Michelle goes out of her way to influence her family for the better, and that is a tough predicament to be in because there's no way to know how changing one piece of history will affect the rest. Her family (who didn't know they were her family) commented on how uncannily she resembled them, but at the time, didn't figure out she was the older Shelly. 

It was thrilling when she fell in love with someone who actually made her happy, a co-worker and coach at the high school, Robert Land. She saw her younger self interact with her would-be future husband and high school sweetheart and realized what a mistake she had made. With a second chance at love and happiness, she indulged, got married and changed a lot of lives, even saved some. Trouble brewed in two phases: Since she was from the future, she knew Mt. Saint Helen's would erupt, and her family had gone to their cabin at the wrong time because of her saving a friend's life and sparing them of the eulogy they had originally attended. They ended up in the volcano's path. Second bump, her husband's friend did a background check and found out she wasn't who she said she was. Robert married her anyway because he was genuinely in love, but it still left the air of suspicion and curiosity. This is where the story came to a close with a very bittersweet ending. Let's just say Michelle kept a diary, and it landed in the best of hands. I was going to write a spoiler, but I won't, because you must get this book and find out what happens to Michelle the time traveler! 

The book left me thinking about it long after I had finished reading it, and it evoked a lot of emotions including cheer, anger, sadness, excitement, thrill. So therefore ... 

I rate this book FIVE stars! Get it here on Amazon!!

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