THE RED JOURNAL
A child's antique ring and a message from beyond the grave point to the treasure of a legacy lost.
Flirty globetrotter Sybil badgers her friend Libby to travel along in seeking out the world's "sacred places" — a monastery in Japan, a mountaintop in Africa, a mosque in Istanbul. Her footloose wandering far from family values costs her more than money.
But Libby can't afford to travel, and she's plagued by a different kind of restlessness. Grieving the recent death of the grandmother who raised her in their inner-city Minneapolis tenement now slated for demolition, Libby faces homelessness in both heart and habitation.
When Libby discovers a cryptic message from beyond the grave and an antique ring pointing to a mystery in an inner room of a mansion museum in North Dakota, she sets out on a quest of her own for the meaning of heritage and home.
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ENDORSEMENTS AND REVIEWS
"Deb Elkink writes stories of ordinary people placed in archetypal situations that explore both their real, in-the-moment frustrations and discoveries while reflecting universal questions about human life."
— Terry Olson, Director of Arts & Cultural Affairs for Orange County, Florida
"In The Red Journal, Deb Elkink takes readers on a journey, not only to spiritual sites around the world, but along the often painful and circuitous pathway to understanding oneself. A remarkable wordsmith, Elkink weaves a vivid portrayal of the quest of two strikingly different women seeking to infuse meaning and purpose into their lives. The discovery of a very real treasure pales next to the revelation that the greatest treasure of all may lie in finding a place to belong. In coming home."
— Sara Davison, award-winning author of The Seven Trilogy and The Night Guardians Series
"A tour de force of characterization. Two women, their lives so disparate, and yet so intertwined, their journeys so diverse. All tied together with a tangled mystery that in the end reveals truth and brings clarity. An exploration through time and levels of meaning."
— Donna Fletcher Crow, The Monastery Murders
"Believable characters, plot twists, rising tension, social relevance, and a soupçon of coincidence combine to make The Red Journal a hearty feast for the ravenous reader."
— Ron Hughes, author of The Upside of Down and Living at the End of the Rope, blogs at FellowPilgrim.org, President of FBH International, Co-founder of HopeStreamRadio
"Just finished reading The Red Journal! Wow! "Word ballet" is how I would describe the many beautiful phrases. Characters, time periods, and events play "peek-a-boo" and keep one interested
to see what's next! Then . . . the surprise!"
— Christa Viljoen, reader
"Deb Elkink is an energetic Christian who holds God's Word with conviction and theological integrity. She is an excellent writer with perspicuity. Her passion leads her to speak with giftedness to women."
— Dr. Grant C. Richison, Advancing Native Missions, Verse-by-Verse Commentary
"The Red Journal is a simmering pot of characters and plot elements. Take off the cover and savor the story. Libby's life is about to change radically as childhood memories, a mysterious mansion, a pregnant grad student, and her promiscuous girlfriend sweep her along. As Libby searches for the recipe, she doesn't realize what she is really looking for is home. The Red Journal is rich with symbolism."
— Wayne Stahre, author and owner, The Habitation of Chimham Publishing
"The Red Journal's restless characters made me restless, too, drawing me to follow the emerging main character all the way home. Complexity sorts itself out in the end to leave me savoring the layers of thought. Elkink does not dumb down logic, symbolism, or theology for her readers. As satisfying as a bowl of homemade soup and as thought-provoking as a George MacDonald novel, The Red Journal delivers."
— Lorenda Harder, artist and poet
"Just finished the book. It's wonderful! Once I got started I couldn't stop reading."
— Susie Munro, reader
"Which of us has not, at one time or another, longed to be back home? We have moved away, traveled far, journeyed long, and all we want is a place of rest, a safe refuge, a sheltered harbor from all that threatens to overwhelm us. Rest for the weary soul. The Red Journal evokes a common experience for all who have ever longed for rest, rich with imagery of place, travel, food, smells — but most of all, longing. Elkink writes for those who are in need of hope, of restoration, and of comfort: It is possible to go home and to find rest."
— Marj Miller, reader
"While Paige seeks answers of an academic nature, Libby Walker's search is more personal and more desperate. The Red Journal is an entertaining read, with characters varied and interesting. Their interactions shed light on universal themes including family values, friendship, compassion, and a longing for home."
— Elma (Martens) Schemenauer, author of YesterCanada: Historical Tales of Mystery and Adventure and Consider the Sunflowers
"Elkink leads the reader along a magical journey of distant childhood memories that surface during the historic house tour with North Dakota as the backdrop."
— Pat Slavin, reader
"I liked Libby from the first page. Her vulnerability invites my trust, as she recognizes "running away . . . won't deliver [her] from the restlessness in her soul." Fragments of memory, aromas, and tastes keep swirling and beckon me to join Libby as she searches for an understanding of what Chesterton calls "holy home-sickness." Deb Elkink's unpredictable, realistic characters exasperate and delight me by turns."
— Pat Gerbrandt, author
"Libby N. Walker is mourning the recent death of her grandmother and wants to buy a bungalow. Sybil Tansey is Libby's only friend and wants to free her from her grief and celibate lifestyle through far-flung, spiritually exotic vacations. The tangled threads of these women's lives are deftly woven into a picturesque tapestry, without a lost or loose thread, in award-winning author Deb Elkink's latest novel, The Red Journal."
— Robert White, award-winning journalist, author, and playwright
"In her search for home, Libby embodies our collective desire to know and to be known. While an earthly father is a gift she never knew, she has forever been deeply loved — and cherished — by her Heavenly Father. Elkink masterfully reveals the heart of God for His children through Libby's journey to find home."
— Camry Crist, reader
"The Red Journal is a carefully-imagined novel for the literary, even scholarly, reader who likes to chew over a novel and tease out its depths . . . I appreciated the chance to read about 40- and
50-year-old protagonists, as well as the (fictional) historical character MDM Laird's exemplary relationships with the Native Americans he invited to dwell on his estate. His focus on keeping their families together was a refreshing counterpart to the true-life travesties imposed by both
American and Canadian governments."
— Janet Sketchley, author of Redemption's Edge and Green Dory Inn series
"Fascinating! I must give this novel top rating. What I like most about The Red Journal is that, once I got the idea of the two friends and the difference in their lifestyles, it struck me how
foolish Sybil is and how wise Libby is. One is totally into herself, but the other wants home. Especially fascinating to me is how Elkink constructed the pattern of the house within the house — that is, the outer search for inner rest. I recommend this to any mature reader looking for meaning."
— Elma N., reader
"The Red Journal was not what I expected, but it was a wild ride through countries and time periods, which I enjoy. Time-slip novels are a welcome genre for me."
— Emily P., reader
"A scintillating novel full of symbolism and twists and turns of plot and characters and contrasts. It's written in a back and forth in time kind of style that keeps you guessing and on your toes! You'll discover the symbolism is this writing style as you read through the novel . . . My thought after reading the first few chapters was that every sentence is filled with word flavor-bombs, like "She circumambulated the famed Jokhang Temple clockwise in company of throngs of crimson-clad lamas and acolytes accruing virtue" or "Every ounce of her mind is concentrated on weathering the cyclone battering her, breakers of pain increasingly intense and finally so close together that she's drowning" . . . I will reread it again soon and take the time to "taste" and to ponder the obvious redemptive figure, and themes of "home" and "father" and "travel" and "searching" and soup! . . . I will for sure be introducing The Red Journal to my book club and I think it would make a wonderful Audible novel."
— Brenda T., reader
"An intellectually appetizing feast from cover to cover. My husband and I just finished reading Deb Elkink's The Red Journal. We thought her first novel, The Third Grace, was exceptional . . . this novel is even better. I found the gripping storyline and style created both excitement and tension and made the book hard to put down!"
— Elayne G., reader
"I loved the journey this story took me on. Having done a lot of travelling and been to some of the places I could relate to the story well. The history written into the story had me captivated. I found it interesting that despite the different personalities of the main characters they remain friends and need each other. It reminded me that we should not shy away from being friends with people with "different" personalities to us."
— Ann, reader
"This novel is so beautifully written. I love the rich Northern Minnesota history so deeply woven into the story, and that it takes place mostly in the Twin Cities, where I am from. Elkink develops her characters and their surroundings so well, I felt like I was standing right there with them, even wanting to taste Libby's soup."
— Andrea C., reader
"I found The Red Journal to be a deep book with many levels. It's a story of looking for belonging. And that's something we all want . . . It would generate a lot of discussion in a book club."
— Linda P., reader
"Libby . . . learns along the way that letting go of the things we think are valuable can lead us to the most precious treasure . . . [Her] relationships with the other characters got me thinking about certain relationships in my life. My interest to travel is piqued by some of the
descriptions of some of the places Sybil visited. My issues with her belief system have given me the motivation to dig into why I believe what I believe. I learned some things about myself along the way. That is the sign of a good book for me, makes you think and you learn something!"
— AmyJo, reader
"This book has so many facets: unknown parentage, addiction, and interracial love and marriage . . . The Red Journal offers both contemporary settings and historical fiction with a subtle faith message and it is a satisfying story that is worthy to be a part of the Mosaic
— Connie S., reader
"The Red Journal by Deb Elkink is a powerful epic tale of families, roots and belonging . . . It took me a while to get into it but when I did — wow, what a powerful read! . . . My favorite quote: "Belonging . . . wasn't about skin color or bloodline but about heart attitude.""
— Julia W., reader
"Aren't we all, at our core, simply walkers in search of Home? . . . Elkink's lyrical writing is worth the time it takes to ponder and sort the strands she weaves into a nearly Dickensian tapestry of connectedness by the novel's end . . . But don't make the mistake of thinking this book is all depth and heaviness . . . This is a novel to savor and to ponder. Read it for its story's universal appeal in the search for belonging. Read it again to plumb the human soul's deepest
— Eleanor Bertin, author of Unbound