The Red Journal — Deb Elkink, author

The Red Journal, Deb Elkink, author. Review

Family fiction — Home for the heart and for the body!

Family fiction reflects readers’ lives. That is the attraction. Many things going on in Libby’s life as she seeks a home fit circumstances in our days. A small, handwritten journal that feels like a moleskin journal holds answers for Libby.

When things look dark, there’s a scrap of hope

Something good will happen! It has to! Libby clings to that small hope as she approaches middle age with little other promise. Her grandmother raised her from an early age after rescuing her from her mother’s abuse. When her grandmother died, Libby had only the income from a low-level job to support her.

Now, she has come close to nothing. She has only the joy of cooking, especially tasty soups. Grandmother was an extraordinary soup maker, teaching Libby many of her cooking secrets.

During these time of pandemic and discouraging outlooks, many can feel her plight. And empathize with her economies. No matter how low her funds run, she keeps trying to match Grandmother’s favorite soup recipe. The recipe has passed from Mother to Daughter throughout Libby’s Native American family. One of a few secrets that went to the grave with Gran. Now, Libby can’t get the ingredients to meet the taste of Gran’s soup. She comes close, but it doesn’t work.

Friends and Their Inner Searches

Sybil, a younger friend, with an ethic level at zero or lower, has greater resources. She owns a new age, herbal shop near the small gallery where Libby works. Sybil’s cold sensitivity meter for Libby’s situation has dipped lower than her ethics. She searches for the ultimate outrageous experience, expecting Libby to join her.

Review The Red Journal, Deb Elkink, author. Gentle, family fiction

Libby is searching for stability and a home. A simple wish to belong and have a place. She has created a fantasy around a specific house in town since her early school days. Walking to and from school past her dream home has been one of her few pleasures.

Friends of Different Worlds

Libby has to sort through her grandmother’s few possessions. Her memories from childhood begin to resurface but are not clear. There are a few significant old letters, a very special ring, a small key, and a travel brochure for a North Dakota museum. She can’t quite get a clear memory on the significance of that museum.

They have lived in a run-down apartment building for years. Libby dreams of a ‘real house.’, but doubts her ability to get a mortgage.

Libby’s ancestors are the corner posts for this story. She pursues memories to learn more about the small keepsakes from her Grandmother. With Sybil’s urging, Libby agrees to make a pilgrimage to the small North Dakota town and the M.D.M. Laird Estate museum. Sybil would rather go to Tibet, but Libby’s limited budget points to North Dakota.

Sybil wants for nothing material. Sad loss in her past has left her adrift and seeking new age thrills. Wild colored hairstyles and extravagant clothing reflect her concept of her spiritual views. , Sybil looks for her truth in herbal and holistic paths. She adds a predatory and promiscious attitude about men to her style. . Actually, she’s very, very much adrift and uncomfortable in her life. She says TRAVEL is everything.

These two women are uncommon friends! I’m not sure they are really ‘friends’. But they have found some connection and meet some need that keeps them together.

Family stories can have more chances?

Libby’s abusive, addicted mother comes back into her life. As she sorts Gran’s possessions, Libby rejects her mother, refusing contact with her.

Libby’s resentment toward her mother simmers to a boil. She craves the stability of her ‘dream house’, will be part of her maturity. For, even though her years are advancing, Libby’s inner girl requires some work.

The Other End of Libby’s Journey

At the other end of the journey, Paige is researching M.D.M. Laird, the town founder, for a master’s degree. She is a key leader in the museum that features Libby’s ancestors.

Not knowing the connection to Libby, she researches the founder of her town for some reality. The information she has doesn’t fit the sense she has of missing pieces in his life. If only she can document those pieces, his true story will come through.

Deb Elkink, author of The Red Journal. Mosaic Collection Books. Enjoy family fiction

All the while, being a newly-wed and expectant mother. Paige’s family situation is the reflection of the life Libby would crave. She glows in the love of her young husband. Her in-laws and others in the community respect and support her in her passion though they don’t share it.

Controversy in the community which diminishes the reputation of the town founder. Old family retainers have filed lawsuits claiming they have estate rights. These actions cause the community to close themselves off from Paige and her search.

Libby’s repressed memories lead her to The Red Journal and her true story. It all has been waiting right there in the museum. YES, there is a happy ending for Libby with a few twisting surprises. Good things can happen to those who wait!

Things I liked about The Red Journal’s family fiction

There are a few important twists and turns in Libby’s life and details of Sybil’s adventures which I’ve not covered in this review.  There should be some pleasant surprises for a reader. These surprises will only add to your enjoyment of a good story. A story that doesn’t feature violence or vulgarity, yet includes some sensuous flavors.

If there would be a flaw in the eyes of some readers it would be that Libby’s happy endings are so very happy!  Her search for family and home have brought her back to childhood memories. Family fiction fits human readers with families, memories, and dreams.

This book has more than froth on the pages. I encourage readers to consider each character for her or his personal story. Each has a path to follow. Some make that path more difficult for themselves and those around them. They truly have no place in the happy ending. Isn’t this the way we will find things in real life?

About Deb Elkink

Mosaic Collection Books led to my acquaintance with this author. I’m complimented to be part of her ‘street team’, Retelling Timeless Truths. Her new book will launch in February.

She has written several other novels to join The Red Journal. Visit for bonus content about The Red Journal. Find interviews with Paige and Sybil, plus details on the scavenger hunt at the Laird estate. The trailer for this book is beautifully done.

Writing from her home in Alberta, Canada, Deb enjoys her country life. She offers a highly recommended editing service to other authors. Check out Rolled Scroll Literary Services.

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