Caitlin’s Song is the fourth novel in the Carson Chronicles by John A. Heldt, which follows the adventures of time-traveling Carson siblings, Adam, Greg, Natalie, Cody, and Caitlin, as they try to reunite with their parents. They narrowly escape being shot down in a car chase in 1944 and wind up going through the portal too soon, arriving in 1962 instead of 1972, as was the plan on their parents’ itinerary. As the growing family adjusts to life in the Kennedy era, twins Cody and Caitlin attend college. A grieving Caitlin wonders if she will find love again and must make a choice between two young men, while in 1972, parents Tim and Caroline find out some life-altering news about their youngest daughter and must go back to 1941 to try and change history.
As with his previous novels, Mr. Heldt’s command of telling a page-turning story is evident in his period-specific details. His research of the 1960s is thorough, immersing the reader in the time period as much as the time travelers. The Cuban Missile Crisis, for example, occurs during the Carsons’ visit, and while they know how history will transpire, just being present with those who don’t know how everything will play out is scary to witness, especially when the history they know doesn’t match the history they are living.
Music is a big part of the 1960s, when rock and roll hit young people with a new wave of tunes. Elvis’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love” is one of the most romantic and memorable love songs of all time. The way Mr. Heldt weaves this song into part of the story is lovely and is an example of how well he shows, rather than tells, what his characters are feeling. It’s through their experiences as they interact with people of the time they are visiting that the reader forms a connection with them, especially Caitlin in this story, as this story really is hers at its core.
Because of the growing Carson family (three of the siblings have met someone in previous time periods and gotten married and are now having babies), each of the novels focuses on one sibling more than the others. As the family enlarges, the challenge of giving all characters some page time is harder. Some of the characters, especially Bridget and Patricia (wives of Adam and Greg), don’t have many lines, which is unfortunate. However, this is understandable with the story focusing mostly on Caitlin, and by extent, her twin, Cody. The parents get more chapters in this novel, however, which is refreshing, and we meet some charming uncles and aunts of Natalie’s husband, Nick Mays. Nick’s family is the type anyone would love to have.
As the Carson siblings and parents travel to their final destination of 1983, before ultimately returning to 2017, the reader looks forward to what awaits in the fifth and final installment of this gripping, heartwarming, and, at times, gut-wrenching series. Mr. Heldt’s Carson Chronicles is sure to entertain anyone who enjoys time-travel and/or historical fiction. This saga reminds us that no matter what year it is, the values of love, hope, and tenacity hold a family together.
Rating: 5/5 stars
Read my reviews of the previous books here:
Review of Indian Paintbrush (Carson Chronicles #3) by John A. Heldt
Review of The Memory Tree (Carson Chronicles Book 2) by John A. Heldt
Review of River Rising (Carson Chronicles Book 1) by John A. Heldt
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