Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Science fiction
Release Date: November 3, 2012
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.
In the interest in full disclosure, the author sent me a copy of this book so I could read and review. I was excited when I read that the book was about time travel, as that is a subject that has always fascinated me. The main character, Michelle, finds herself at a loss when her husband Scott passes away without warning in a mountain climbing accident. For over thirty years, her life has virtually revolved around him, and his company. Instead of going to Yale and becoming a writer as she’d dreamt, she followed him to the college of his choice and got married, emotionally supporting him through the ups and downs of owning his own company. While they were well-off financially, she never pursued her writing, and the two of them never had children.
When she gets an invite to her class reunion, she decides she has nothing to lose. Some friends there decide to take an unofficial tour of an old mansion in town. She wanders into a room with stairs and when she returns to the main room, her friends have vanished and it’s suddenly 1979 again!
Part of what makes this book so enjoyable is seeing how Michelle learns to adapt to what would have to be a very difficult situation. She doesn’t throw herself a pity-party, she seizes the opportunity to start her life over—in more ways than one. Though she has no form of identification with her, she is able to work out a plan to get some, and convinces the principal to give her a job at her old high school as the attendance secretary.
She begins making a difference almost instantly, befriending and encouraging her old classmates and offering wise advice that helps all of them navigate their way through the trials and tribulation of being teenagers. What makes it even more interesting is that she actually becomes a mentor to her younger self, who is in danger of going down the same path that Michelle chose herself. She debates whether or not helping change certain events and tragedies is for the best, but ultimately decides she can’t stand by and watch people she cares for get unnecessarily hurt.
The story alternates between Michelle’s point of view, and that of her younger self’s, making this novel appealing to both youth and adults alike. The dialogue is very realistic and many points in the book made me laugh out loud. But if you decide to check it out, have tissues handy, too. This is a very heartfelt story that is told with honesty and warmth, leaving the reader to ask themselves…if you had a chance to do it all over again, what would you do?
This one gets four hearts from me!
John A. Heldt is a reference librarian who lives and works in Montana. The former award-winning sportswriter and newspaper editor has loved reading and writing since writing book reports on baseball heroes in grade school. A graduate of both the University of Oregon and University of Iowa, he is an avid fisherman, sports fan, home brewer, and reader of thrillers and historical fiction. Heldt is the author of THE MINE, THE JOURNEY, and THE SHOW, the first three novels of his Northwest Passage time-travel series.