Bethany and Dana review Olive Juice by TJ Klune (Published by Dreamspinner Press, April 26, 2017, 121 pages) A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.
It begins with a message that David cannot ignore:
I want to see you.
He agrees, and on a cold winter’s night, David and Phillip will come together to sift through the wreckage of the memory of a life no longer lived.
David is burdened, carrying with him the heavy guilt of the past six years upon his shoulders.
Phillip offers redemption.
Bethany – Ok so leading up to this book, I hadn’t read the blurb, or any TJ’s post about it. I avoided any sort of info, whether it was on Facebook or a blog. I can say that I went into this one COMPLETELY blind and unaware about this book. Why? I’m not really sure, I think I had heard that this one was so different from what he typically writes, I wanted to go in without any preconceived idea about it. I am so glad I did.
When I started I had noticed while reading the percentage went from 9% to 20% rather quickly. That is not really what I would expect from TJ, normally his books are well over 200 pages. So this one was a very quick read, no chapters needed. And while I could have finished this one in one sitting, it got to a point where the pain they were experiencing was too much for me to handle. I NEEDED to put it down and finish it the next day, for my own sanity.
Yet even though this one was a short book by his standards, it was no less powerful. From the very beginning of the book, I could feel David’s pain, I wasn’t sure what the cause of it was, but oh my could I feel it. What is different in this one versus say, ‘Tell Me It’s Real,’ is David and Philip already know each other and have history, though I wasn’t sure what kind of history til a bit of the way in. As they begin to rehash the past and talk about what happened that led them to where they were at that evening was heartbreaking. While they dig deeper into the past you can see the absolute love they had, as still have for each other. And the tragedy that tore them apart was my undoing. I needed to put it down and regroup.
This book is tragic, it’s devastating, and I am not really sure how I made it through. I wouldn’t call it a HEA, more like a healing, we will be better together. I can’t imagine the unbelievable pain these two men went through and still go through each minute of each day. Both broken in their own way, they need to be together, because together they are stronger. Together is the only thing they know, they only way they can survive. God this book gutted me and broke my heart into thousands of tiny pieces. And while TJ didn’t quite mend it completely, he gave me hope. Hope for many things for this couple, some I know probably won’t come to be, but hope that love can conquer even the darkest times.
I want to tell you not to read the blurb, if you haven’t yet. If you have though I ask you to go into this with an open mind. Its not an easy one to get through but it is brilliantly written. It is one that will stay with you for a long time after you finish. I’m not sure how TJ can write something so devastating yet healing all at the same time, but he does. Please get this book, try it, yet keep an open mind and see that some things are worth fighting for.
Dana – This is going to be a difficult book to review. The vagueness of the blurb and at the beginning of the story make me feel that the author, TJ Klune, would like the readers to go into the story without too much information in order to experience the intense emotions with surprise and so you will totally have wookie cry face.
I love this author’s work and haven’t read a book of his that I didn’t really like or love. There a few I still have to get to and I imagine that this streak will only continue. Olive Juice, well… Olive Juice. It’s another book I loved, but I did find myself just a little bit impatient for the first half of the book. It was written well, but David started the book with so much internal pain and guilt. He wallows in it and though it’s a mystery to the reader what exactly is causing it. I could just feel the emotions building in him and I needed the release nearly as bad as he did.
It’s a bit awkward as he meets Phillip for dinner. There is a lot of distance between them and the way Phillip keeps calling him buddy, I felt a little bit confused as to how close they really were before the mysterious event that happened 6 years before. With the help of flashbacks and what happens after dinner, things do become clearer. In fact, Phillip and David become one of my very favorite couples ever. I think that it saying a lot since the book is only 121 pages long.
David really is broken and it’s clear that he needs help. But Phillip steals my heart with the words, “I haven’t had my fill of you yet.” Together they make me believe in the true power of love. They are the definition of a couple that has gone through hell and back. In a way, they are stronger because of it, but time, especially time together is needed.
I don’t want to give away what happened to them, but it is definitely recommended to have tissues. I didn’t cry over what might be the hardest thing anyone will ever have to face, but I did shed tears closer to the end. TJ Klune is known for bringing the emotion to his books and I felt them. This one kind of lacks the humor of some of his books before, but it is beautiful and sad. This book takes place in the span of one night, though there are memories that allow us to see the characters’ pasts and really get to know them. I really loved how it was written. I really don’t think there is anything more I can say without giving the important details away. It might be a book you need to be in the right headspace to read, but I would definitely recommend this book to anyone.
9/10 Pots of Gold (90% Recommended) – Compares to 4.5/5 Stars
When TJ Klune was eight, he picked up a pen and paper and began to write his first story (which turned out to be his own sweeping epic version of the video game Super Metroid—he didn’t think the game ended very well and wanted to offer his own take on it. He never heard back from the video game company, much to his chagrin). Now, over two decades later, the cast of characters in his head have only gotten louder. But that’s okay, because he’s recently become a full-time writer, and can give them the time they deserve.
Since being published, TJ has won the Lambda Literary Award for Best Gay Romance, fought off three lions that threatened to attack him and his village, and was chosen by Amazon as having written one of the best GLBT books of 2011.
And one of those things isn’t true.
(It’s the lion thing. The lion thing isn’t true.)
Tj can be reached at email@example.com.