A shared review experience with the CE.
When one of their friends goes missing, everything comes crashing down for the small group of childhood friends in the small town of Greenfield. Ethan takes it hard. Then he loses his dog, his only consolation.
Hoping to start anew, Ethan leaves Greenfield and moves to New York City. Far from the ghosts of his childhood and the river that gives and takes life. There he finds his one true love and builds a career as a bestselling author.
But how long will Ethan’s happiness last as doubts creep back into him and shatter his reality? And will his reconciliation with the past come at too great a price?
All rivers carry their secrets, but not every river keeps its secret forever.
Growing up in a 70s rural town in the panhandle of Nebraska, Ethan, his brother Will, and their friends enjoy a languid summer, playing in the river and dreaming of crafting a raft. It was an innocent time of fields and farms, bucolic setting, pines, and exchanges of goals and secrets. When Ethan finds a golden retriever, near death, he enlists the help of his buddy’s dad, a vet, and helps to ensure the beautiful animal escape death. There are obvious indications of abuse.
Years later, there are tragic occurrences that drive Ethan to New York to join his brother where he naively discovers a wildly different type of life. But Will is a nomad who loves the ocean and leaves his apartment in the care of Ethan. Ethan gains a job and begins to cement a future, working, writing, and meeting a woman who will become his wife.
A storyteller, Jan fills his literary fiction with deeply felt philosophical prose while continuing to try to come to terms with his past. Reconciliation in the present, while seeking relief of the grief from his past and the beautiful community in which he spent a carefree boyhood until that disastrous summer.
There are themes of heartbreak, love, evil, redemption, and finally, reconciliation. Jan steps up his details but misses a few threads that the reader might have wanted to know whether resolved. There were occasional song titles that fit with the melancholy and the timeline of the narrative covered some twenty-five years. While the author did a heroic job of translating from Croatian to English, there were a few missed edits (was it adopted–or stepson?) and simple contradictions.
We were contacted directly by the author requesting an honest review in exchange for a gift copy of his novel and we appreciated the opportunity which in no way swayed our opinions. Recommended to those who enjoy a circumspect peek in mid-west America 70s to 90s, the love of dogs, and the literary drama of life. 4 stars
This coming of age novel is staged around a western Nebraska town. The author captures the essence of being a young boy in a farm community. Being the “little brother” Ethan is following an older brother in a bucolic setting of rivers and grain fields and quiet summer days. He gets to explore life and nature. He finds a near-death dog that he rescues and nurtures back to health. Their bond becomes inseparable.
Losing one member of his childhood gang haunts him throughout the book. His older brother is a beacon to him throughout life without being a guide. The relationship of the boys and parents is well developed and appreciated. The family has a well-developed business and an opportunity for either or both boys to inherit a profitable business.
Life has many twists and turns and Bernard Jan has captured the emotional essence. Many parents have witnessed the castle of their expectations for their offspring evaporate when the child develops his own interests. Peppered within life are many divergent trails and opportunities. The author captured the feel of those forks in the road.
Ethan follows his older brother Willy to New York. The serendipitous change of environment is indeed a path that draws Ethan from his youth. He works as a waiter in a restaurant and gets to be a key part of the business. He tends to be a recluse but is drawn out by a love interest. His dynamic of life changes.
I was amazed at the awesome translation of this book from Croatian into other languages including English. I am grateful for the excellent work the team of editors accomplished. I highly recommend this book to animal lovers and those who appreciate a good “coming of age” novel. True to life the road is curving and bumpy and an excellent escape. 4 stars – CE Williams
Genre: Pet Dogs, Friendship Fiction, Family Relationship, Animal Fiction, City Life Fiction
- ASIN: B086LJJC8V
Print Length: 235 pages
Publication Date: April 3, 2020
Source: Direct author request
Title Link(s): January River
Rosepoint Publishing: Four of Five Stars
My pen name is Bernard Jan. I am a novelist and a poet from Croatia, and I have released three books in English.
“A World Without Color” is a true story of the last three days I spent with my cat, while “Look for Me Under the Rainbow” in a unique and gentle way sheds light on the plight of harp seal pups in Canada. It warms the heart of all readers concerned about our planet and its treasures. “January River” is a heartwarming cross-genre novel about five friends, one dog, and one river carrying a secret.
My first two books were written at the beginning of the war in Croatia in 1991 amidst air alerts and illusory attempts when I wanted to believe and think that life is normal, that everything is all right with the world. I have published five novels, two novellas, and one book of poems in Croatian. Four of my books, including the book of poems, were translated into English.
My passion for music and entertainment resulted in my becoming a partner of Tom’s Music Place, which was established in 2009 by my friend Thomas Carley Jr., whose objective was to raise the respect of music.
My desire to help others came to the fore during my years advocating environmental protection and advocacy of animal rights. I did volunteering work for the refugees, because suffering does not know any borders. When it comes within your reach in your home, you simply have to do something. As part of my animal advocacy activities, it has been a great honor and pleasure to translate “Eternal Treblinka: Our Treatment of Animals and the Holocaust” by Charles Patterson into Croatian.
For more information, visit my website https://www.bernardjan.com.
©2020 CE Williams – V Williams