The Journals of Rebecca Jemima Callaway Review by Patti Pierce
Ardie’s Books provides a selection of reading books including the historical fiction series about RJ – Rebecca Jemima Callaway and her experiences while going west with her family to Oregon and then about living in Oregon. The books are geared for those ages nine to one hundred and nine. This series is the mainstay of Ardie’s writing. Ardie’s pen name is Ardith Nelson. The books are available in both paperback and Kindle formats.
The series includes three books: RJ’s Journey, RJ’s Valley, and RJ’s Legacy. The first two books focus primarily on RJ and her own life, while the last book focuses on RJ’s descendants. The time and attention to detail show that much time and research was put into the story.
RJ’s Journey: The Journals of Rebecca Jemima Callaway begins the series chronicling RJ’s life as she and her family prepare and then journey from Missouri to Oregon Territory. The story is written in the form of journal entries. So, the book clearly demonstrates what is important to RJ. For example, leaving much of her family behind obviously pained RJ. At the same time, she recognized the adventure before her.
Another point in this story I really appreciated was how RJ recognized how many husbands bringing their families west made the decision alone. While RJ’s father included her mother and the children in the discussion and planning for the trip. She realized it made things easier for her family. As the book continued when they arrived in Oregon, it was clear how times were different back then. When RJ’s little sister is born, RJ provides much-needed help to her mother. Then RJ at the age of 14 is allowed to leave home and move to the town to teach. She witnesses her sister get married, one of her brothers begin to court, and more. While the fact that life had its hardships, I appreciated how the writing focused more on the good things that happened.
RJ’s Valley is the second book in the series examines her life from Eighteen-sixty to Eighteen-sixty-two. The journals continue to chronicle RJ’s experiences teaching as well as moving from being single to getting married and wanting to start a family. Truly, this book shows how painful the loss of a child can be. This book also includes historical facts about the Civil War and how even those as far west as Oregon could feel the ramifications through their family and friends they left behind.
As Joshua and RJ marry, they face the struggles and blessings that come from having one to walk beside them through life. In this book, the entries are longer than the first book. I found the length to be perfect to convey the needed thoughts and ideas. The way the author examines the day to day lives and activities of RJ and her family and friends pulls the reader into the story. I loved reading about how the families worked together to develop their part of Willamette Valley.
Finally, the series concludes with RJ’s Legacy that conveys the memories of RJ and Joshua’s descendants. It illustrates the values and love that RJ instilled in her children. Memories from her children including Cassie, Eddie, George, Jake, and Grace along with RJ’s granddaughter Emma and RJ’s first cousin Booney round out this book. The memories from all these people illustrate the love and faith RJ, her husband Joshua, and their relatives instilled in the following generations.
Throughout the entire series, a strong value of faith and God comes through the pages. The use of Scriptural references comes at just the right points and at the right quantity to make the book feel real rather than preaching in tone.
This series reminds me in many ways of the Little House on the Prairie books. I feel these books are suitable for all ages, especially if read aloud to younger children. The attention to detail and historical details make these interesting to read. I recommend these books.
-Product review by Patti Pierce, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January 2020