Review of ‘January River’ by Bernard Jan ****

January River

January River by Bernard Jan

After what seemed a lifetime, Ethan McCoy returns to Greenfield, a sleepy little town in Nebraska, and stops by January River to reminisce about his childhood, friends, and his beloved dog River. With his older brother Will and two other friends, Jason and Derrick, they often went rafting down that river. Derrick was shy and withdrawn, and his sister Sarah never hesitated to fight with boys who bullied him. One winter, Ethan found a dog beside the river, nursed him back to health, and they became inseparable. Then Derrick drowns in a tragic accident, and life was no longer carefree.

Grown up, Ethan went to New York to visit his brother Will, who was a merchant marine sailor, and he decided to live in the Big Apple, renting Will’s apartment. After six years, a chance meeting with Susan, owner of a popular magazine, led to both of them returning to Greenfield, where Susan wanted to write a tourist article about this fascinating little town. They married, and Ethan, starting to become a popular author, thought life could not be better. When Susan died from leukemia, his world crumbled around him. Determined to push on with his life, on his way to Montana to finish his latest book, Ethan stopped at Greenfield to recapture something of his past.

With January River, Bernard Jan drags readers into Ethan’s life with narrative that is often haunting and stirring, bringing the book’s characters into sharp relief. The writing is fluid and very easy to read, and Bernard Jan takes time to explore Ethan’s emotions with sensitive writing as vents unfold around him, revealing him as a character of considerable depth. Some of the dialogue is very engaging, and readers will readily relate to Ethan and his friends. Older readers who are still young at heart will enjoy seeing Ethan grow into eventual adulthood when he embraces the hectic life of New York. Regrettably, Bernard Jan rushes through several important episodes in Ethan’s life, and his writing loses some of its earlier fluidity, which the book regains later. January River is an enchanting read, which could have been developed more fully. Nevertheless, what readers are given will leave them eminently satisfied and thoughtful, reminiscing about their own past.

This book is available on Amazon.

About Bernard Jan

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 to shed 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 writing 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


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