Friday, October 3, 2014

The Mirror (Northwest Passage #5) by John A. Heldt

On September 11, 2020, Ginny and Katie Smith celebrate their nineteenth birthday at a country fair near Seattle. Ignoring the warnings of a fortune-teller, they enter a house of mirrors and exit in May 1964. Armed with the knowledge they need to return to their time, they try to make the most of what they believe will be a four-month vacation. But their sixties adventure becomes complicated when they meet a revered great-grandmother and fall in love with local boys. In THE MIRROR, the continuation of THE MINE and THE SHOW, the sisters find happiness and heartbreak as they confront unexpected challenges and gut-wrenching choices in the age of civil rights, the Beatles, and Vietnam.

I fell in love the very first time I read Heldt's work.  The characters are complex and real and you feel this sense of urgency to travel along with them.  Not only that, in each one there's a depth that makes you stop and think about your own life.  These people are placed in some pretty severe situations, and you find yourself wondering if you'd react differently.  How would you cope in such situations?  What if you were pulled into a different time and world and had to leave your loved ones behind?  What if you knew certain death was facing you?  How do you handle it when you finally find the love of a lifetime, only to immediately lose them to unforeseen circumstances?

Every book of his has hit me in a powerful way, so much so that I've had to share it with others. They each convey a deep passion that made me feel a connection with the author as well as his characters and worlds.

This book actually disappointed me a little.  It didn't have the same passion and depth and the characters just didn't have the winning combination of characteristics that I've come to expect.  I loved the repertoire between the twins, but honestly, I just didn't care about them or their situation.  Compared to everything I'd already read, this was much more juvenile.  With the other books, it felt to me like these people were finding true love...the stuff of fairy tales and nearly every little girl's longing heart.  In The Mirror, however, it was a much more teenage crush feeling.  I didn't really care if the girls 'hooked' up with their guys or not.  Mostly because every other story has led me on this fascinating and heartbreaking trail, and now I'm stuck with insipid teenagers with crushes.  It's like feeding me prime filet mignon and then tossing me a hot dog.  I'm disappointed and I want more.

Also, the writing in this one was a little different.  It felt almost thrown together, versus the powerful storytelling previously.  In each previous book, I could feel Heldt's passion and need to tell the story.  In this one, it felt more like he needed to produce another book, and what better way to wrap it up than to crank this one out.

Now, all of the other books in the series stand alone quite nicely.  You don't even need to read them in order.  In fact, I suggest that you don't.  Just randomly grab them and start reading and then you can go back and reread in order and it's like an entirely new series, but even more in depth.  This book, however, must be read after all of the others.  Quite simply, the main charm of this story is how it ties all of the other together and if you don't have any previous information, you're going to be lost and wondering why you're reading this book. 

If you're like me and you loved the rest of the series, you have to read this one.  There are some great dialogue exchanges, but mainly the way that all of the threads are pulled together to pull a bow here allows you to fill in some previous gaps.  If you're considering the series, I strongly urge you to read it.  However, don't start with this book.  Wait until you've read all the others and have fallen in love with the characters and story line first.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  Shawn

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The old grey donkey, Eeyore stood by himself in a thistly corner of the Forest, his front feet well apart, his head on one side, and thought about things. Sometimes he thought sadly to himself, "Why?" and sometimes he thought, "Wherefore?" and sometimes he thought, "Inasmuch as which?" and sometimes he didn't quite know what he was thinking about.

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