Growing up seems to happen much too suddenly. Seeing the world for what it it, a teenager learns the world isn't perfect and he learns much to find the truth that lies behind it all and how best to understand it. Poignant, "Elk River" is a fine coming of age novel, not to be overlooked. -- Midwest Book Review
Living in Chicago fourteen year old Howie Smith always looks forward to the time that he and his family head to his grandparents farm for the summer. While Howie and his brother Bill who is nine and his mother Anne spend the summer at the farm his father Doug can only come up on the weekends because of his job with the Chicago Tribune. A story set during a time when things seemed much simpler, but were still complex that allows us a glimpse of family and friendships, living and dying and a look at the way things were in 1956. The author weaves a story that easily transported me back in time.The writing really pulled me in with descriptions and imagery that made me feel like I was right alongside the characters. I could just imagine Howie and his family anxious for to leave the city each summer and head back to the farm. It was always exciting and there was always something to do. The only thing that Howie and Bill didn't look forward to was spending any time with their alcoholic aunt who was often belligerent. There were plenty of interesting characters that kept the plot moving along with this one. I thought Uncle Frank, while a bit eccentric taught Howie a few life lessons.As the author provides the back stories of the characters we learn of the loss that goes along with living. The different characters added layers to the story that made the story come to life. I found it quite interesting to read about the migrant workers and how they lived and traveled from farm to farm. Overall I loved the time period and setting of this story, but strong characters and a plot that allowed me to feel as if I was a part of Howie's family really kept me reading! --Readers Favorite
In his latest, Randall, a Walnut Creek (California) resident, takes readers back to his Michigan roots during a hot and stormy summer in 1956. Set against the backdrop of nuclear war fears, tensions in the Middle East and the aftermath of WWII, this coming of age story, peppered with unique characters, follows a young man as he realizes that there is more to life than baseball. Peggy Spear --Walnut Creek Magazine Nov/Dec 2011
Have you ever wished that you could hop on a time machine and go anyplace, anytime? Greg Randall has succeeded. His novel "Elk River" took me back to Elk River, Michigan, summer 1956. Where - a cherry/Apple Orchard just outside of town. I had a wonderful time; of course I was invisible and I saw everything that happened firsthand. Only a good writer, like Greg Randall, can make that happen. I walked into that book at the beginning of the summer and stayed there invisibly until the beginning of fall. What did I see? So many wonderful things... I saw a boy and his brother almost run over by a dying stag; I saw a man drowned foolishly in town while going after the big one; I saw a boy, his brother and family having fun at a Carnival and other strange things that happened there. And I saw many other wonderful strange events. You, the reader, can decide for yourself what`s strange and what's not. But you know what else I saw, but didn't see because I felt some things that I haven't felt in a very long time. I felt what it was like to be part of a strong knit family, what it was like to eat at the kitchen table and discuss the events of the day, what it was like to visit with friends and relatives and have a good time, what it was like for an uncle to teach his nephew some things he would never forget. And the list goes on and on... I'll let you, the reade,r decide for yourself. So you see, this book is not just about Elk River in 1956 and what happened there. This book is about what it was like growing up in the 50s, the way people treated others, knowing right from wrong, doing the right thing, growing and learning from your mistakes, and learning about new love. And of course, there's oh so much more in "Elk River" by Greg Randall. I feel I must make one final comment, this book was extremely well edited and a pleasure to read. Greg Randall, please keep writing, you're doing a wonderful job. Reading your book has enriched my life. --Dennis DeRose
About the Author
Gregory C. Randall was born on a very hot Traverse City, Michigan summer day in 1949. His journalism father and housewife mother, both quite young, moved and moved around the mid-west, always bettering the family's financial condition, while adding brothers and sisters. In the early 1950's the family found Park Forest, Illinois, where Greg was raised. Dad was the quintessential Organization Man, commuting every day the thirty miles to Chicago's Loop by train. Always a drawer and sketcher, Greg Randall studied architectural and industrial design at Kent State University and completed a B.S. degree in landscape architecture, with honors, at Michigan State University. In the space of a month he graduated, married his college sweetheart, packed up the car and trailer and moved to California, vowing to never to look back. Randall lives and works in Walnut Creek, California with his wife Bonnie. He is also the author of two blogs. CogitoUrbanus is a weekly commentary on the development and planning industry, and Writing4Death is a weekly diary of his current writing projects.