September Sky (American Journey Book One) by John A. Heldt, 585 pages, January 1st, 2015, Genre: Time Travel/Historical Romance/Victorian. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.
by Leigh Holland
September Sky is a novel combining elements of mystery, adventure, romance, time travel, and the historical American Victorian era all in one book. It’s hard to pin a genre down for this book and John A. Heldt combines these elements in a refreshing and unique manner. Although we begin in 2016, we quickly find ourselves traveling back to Galveston, Texas at the turn of the twentieth century. The author’s research into events and places of Galveston in 1900 seemed thorough and added a deeper enjoyment to the story.
This is the story of a father, Chuck, and his adult son- two travelers in life who have lost everything suddenly. Chuck was so obsessed with his work he failed to see what truly mattered. Once he is laid off, and his ex-wife and her parents killed in a tragic accident, he is filled with regret over his choices. Meanwhile, Justin’s life feels empty and hollow to him, and he has dropped out of college. Both men are at transitional periods in their lives, searching for meaning and purpose. Chuck wastes no time bonding with his son Justin on a cruise where they attend a lecture on time travel by Professor Bell. Later, Bell invites them to his home where he offers them the chance of a lifetime- to travel through a time tunnel beneath his house to a specific time in the past. They are given devices to help them return once their journey is complete. Once in 1900, they ignore Bell’s rules and plans, and instead head to Galveston to try to stop an innocent ancestor from being executed for a crime he didn’t commit. Chuck believes righting the injustice will restore his sense of purpose. What neither Chuck nor Justin could have foreseen was falling in love with Charlotte and Emily, Victorian women of 1900 Galveston.
Chuck’s initial experiences in the past mirror his beginning state- a lost soul looking for meaning. He and Justin are both honorable men who come to care deeply about the town and its people. Aware of an impending natural disaster set to wipe out thousands, they must decide whether to interfere in the past and if so, how much they are willing to change it. While helping his great uncle avoid an unjust fate is noble, Chuck realizes righting the wrong won’t give him long term happiness and a sense of purpose. When both men fall in love, they seem to harbor the unrealistic expectation that their lady loves will leave everything behind and follow them back to 2016. Selfishly, they both proceed with romantic, meaningful relationships knowing the turmoil they may bring into the women’s lives. But perhaps that’s part of the theme- the ties that bind us inspire us to make radical, life altering choices in the name of love. Love gives our lives meaning and purpose.
Overall, I enjoyed reading this novel. The writing style is very good; although there were a few sections of dialogue that perhaps could have been condensed. People often choose to obsess over other aspects of their lives, such as career, and we often take those we love for granted, imagining we’ll always have more time with them. The depiction of the Great Galveston Hurricane of 1900 was dramatic, nail-biting, and reminded us that we can lose everything and everyone at any moment. The romantic elements weren’t graphic and were flirtatious and sweet. I’d recommend this novel to readers who enjoy time travel, mystery, and adventure novels.
This book is the first in a five book series. You can purchase this book at Amazon at September Sky.