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April 23, 2017

Time-Traveling Adventure: Mercer Street by John A. Heldt

by Donna Huber
Mercer Street
October 2015; ebook (431 pages)
time travel, historical fiction

If you could travel to any time during the 19th century what year would you choose? That is the question facing the 3 women in John A. Heldt's time-traveling story Mercer Street.

Amazon affiliate links are used in this post. A free ebook was provided for an honest review.

Grandmother Elizabeth, mother Susan, and daughter Amanda are on vacation in California when they attend a lecture by a professor Bell on time traveling. Bell's interest in the women is piqued and their journey of a lifetime begins. The women travel back to 1938 when Elizabeth's family first arrived in the U.S., fleeing a Hitler controlled Austria, with one-year-old Elizabeth. In addition to traveling across the country in the post-depression era, the women face love and danger as the nation prepares for war.

Mercer Street is the second book in Heldt's American Journey series. Somehow I missed the first book in this series, but outside of a few references to the people who travel in September Sky, Mercer Street is a stand alone novel.

I have read Heldt's other series Northwest Passage and I assumed that the American Journey series would be similar. I was right and I was wrong. Unlike in the Northwest Passage were characters stumble upon doorways to the past, in American Journey the characters have an encounter with the professor who invites them on a journey of the lifetime.

Like the stories of the Northwest Passage series, Mercer Street is a simple story told in a straightforward manner. The beauty of Heldt's writing is in this simplicity as the stories aren't boring. I enjoyed every minute I spent in 1938 with Elisabeth, Susan, and Amanda. Without the complex plot and complicated character interactions, it was a relaxing read. I felt I should be rocking on the front porch with a glass of sweet tea, or perhaps lounging on the beach without a care in the world.

I love that the story is told in third person limited. In alternating chapters, I was able to see the world through the eyes of all three women without having to keep track of who's point of view it was. It provided depth to the story and richness to context.

While the plot isn't complicated, the approach of a world war does complicate the lives of the three women. Particularly when Amanda falls in love with the son of a German diplomat. Will she change the course history?

Then there is Elizabeth who babysits herself. Will the time-space continuum implode?

And not to mention they are 3 women with weak back stories visiting a time that national paranoia is increasing. Will they slip up and say something they shouldn't? Will someone dig a little deeper into who they really are?

And what about when it comes time to return to the 21st century?

Only one thing kind of irked me. A tiny detail really. When Amanda meets Dorothy Gale in 1938 she comments that she looks a lot like her college roommate. I kind of thought she would look up what happened to Dorothy when she returns to the present seeing how good of friends they became, but she doesn't. I know she has her hands full, but I would have liked to have that thread tied up.

I liked the winks to Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure and Back to the Future.

If you are looking for a book to accompany your next weekend of R&R, I highly recommend Mercer Streat.

Buy Mercer Street at Amazon

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.

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