Reviewed by Arya Fomonyuy for Readers' Favorite
The Journal by R.D. Stevens is a heartwarming story that explores themes of family, adventure, and the quest for meaning. Meet eighteen-year-old Ethan Willis, who sets out on a journey to locate the sister who’s been gone for years, travelling across South East Asia. Follow the protagonist as he travels through the unfamiliar, yet exciting landscapes of Cambodia, Laos, and the Islands of Thailand. He locates a journal left by his sister that poignantly documents her philosophy on life, her relationships, and her personal journey, so the young Ethan feels both connected and left with many questions as he reads it. When this journey ends, will he ever be the same again and will he be able to locate his sister?
The writing is highly descriptive and the author does an excellent job in leading readers into the psychology of the young protagonist. Young readers can relate to many of the experiences described in this story. I enjoyed the relationship between Ethan and his sister, but what greatly surprised me was the author’s treatment of setting. It comes out vividly through the narrative and readers will feel thrust into an exciting world where South East Asia comes out in striking colors. Whether describing a back road in Cambodia or capturing the party spirit of the Thai, R.D. Stevens makes the reader feel as though they are part of the ambiance. The pacing is great and the reader is spurred on by curiosity to discover what happens next, looking forward to an inevitable encounter between two siblings, yet uncertain if it could ever happen. The Journal is a compelling read with memorable characters, a great setting, and a gripping plot.