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Not to Keep follows the lives of five young friends as they grow from their shared childhood in the woods and swamps of North Central Florida through their experiences in World War I and their return home from war.

Now Available

A Florida Novel by
Rebecca J. Johnston

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The Author

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Rebecca has been awarded a

Writer in Residence position by

the Key West Literary Seminar.

My Story

Rebecca Johnston graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelors in English and Modern European History in 2015, and in 2017 she graduated with her Masters in English from the University of Texas at Tyler. Currently Rebecca is pursuing a doctoral degree from the University of Exeter while also serving as the Vice President of the Florida Hemingway Society. She has had academic articles published both nationally and internationally, and she has received research grants from the Hemingway Society and the JFK Library in Boston. Rebecca is an English Professor at Santa Fe College in Gainesville, Florida, while living nearby on an island off the coast of Florida.

My Books

Not to Keep follows the lives of five young friends as they grow from their shared childhood in the woods and swamps of North Central Florida through their experiences in World War One and their return home from war. Their story weaves through the history of America’s reception of returning WWI vets as they experience the Bonus Army in Washington D.C. and the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935. Due to the lack of care and concern shown to WWI veterans, we now have the Veterans Administration. There has been progress made in the last one hundred years, but there is room for more progress. While we as a nation, as individuals, and as churches, send young men and women off to fight our battles overseas, we do not receive them for who they become through this experience. My hope is that in these pages readers will connect with this group of young men. In that connection, may they go back to their communities and show patience and compassion for veterans and Goldstar families.

My Book
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First Place - Best Historical Fiction 
Second Place - Southern Fiction
Your Comments

"Whether you have lived in Levy County for just a few years, or your whole life, you will LOVE this book. It brought a few tears, and a few laughs and maybe some memorable stories I’ve heard a few times.


But the bigger part, if you have a heart at all for our country’s service men and women…then you need to read this book. Our country let them down and

continues to let them down."


In the press
Please Join Us
September  17, 2023, 2pm, Marion County Museum of History & Archaeology, Ocala, FL
July 18, 6pm, Hemingway Days, Key West Art & Historical Society, Tropical Cinema, Key West, Florida
The author at the Florida Library Association Convention, Jacksonville, Florida
The author at the Matheson Museum, Gainesville, Florida
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Cedar Key writer's first novel dips into Florida history in 'Not to Keep'  Book Review


Mary Jane Ryals  |  Special to the Tallahassee Democrat

In her vivid first novel, "Not to Keep," Cedar Key writer Rebecca Johnston homes in on five Florida Cracker kids living in the Suwannee River-Gulf area of Florida in the 1910s. While their childhoods are rich with swimming and exploring wild creatures — the wars the boys go off to later bring no joy.

Will, whose twin brother is named Mil, narrates the story in a Panhandle dialect. Will lies on his deathbed and declares to his niece hearing the story: “Anne, there are things to be fixed which can’t be fixed, but I aim to try.” History can heal, the words imply. 

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The History

From World War I to the Great Depression and the 1935 Hurricane

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