Five years ago, Benji Green lost his beloved father Big Eddie when his truck crashed into a river. Everyone called it an accident, but Benji knows it was more. Even years later, he's buried in his grief, throwing himself into managing Big Eddie's convenience store in the small-town of Roseland, Oregon. Surrounded by his mother and three aunts, he lives day to day, struggling to keep his head above water.
But Roseland is no ordinary place.
With ever more frequent dreams of his father's death and waking visions of feathers on the river's surface, Benji finds his definition of reality bending. He thinks himself haunted; by ghosts or memories, he can no longer tell. Not until a man falls from the sky, leaving the burning imprint of wings on the ground, does Benji begin to understand that the world is more mysterious than he ever imagined - and more dangerous. As uncontrollable forces descend on Roseland, they reveal long-hidden truths about friends, family, and the stranger Calliel - a man Benji can no longer live without.
©2013 TJ Klune (P)2014 Dreamspinner Press
"Well written, heartbreakingly earnest narration!"
I don't often write book reviews.
I was really hesitant about buying this book as it had no reviews and only a 2 star rating.
Take a chance on this book!
I have a very low tolerance for awkward, amateurish, or self indulgent writing. I couldn't find a single hitch in this imaginative, well realized, and expertly executed story.
Where "In This River I Drown" really shines, though, is the narration. It took only about a minute for the narrater to wrap the story around my heart and squeeze. His voice, off-puttingly childish only for a moment, somehow immersed me in the bittersweet joy of memories, the warmth of families, friends, and loves. I felt like my heart was crushed a few times through the story, felt so much relief I gasped in others, and in some points felt more rage than I've felt toward any story villains I can remember.
This story, and this voice will become a part of you experience, and these characters will become a part of your psyche, and your heart.
Kal, without a doubt. His bright love for the world and such seemingly small things was so endearing, and paradoxically he was terrifying in his strength. Beautiful! Nina is a close second, though she seemed a bit like a Stephen King style gimmick (one I've always been fond of, though).
Oh my gosh! So many things I could say. I have no idea how he did it, but the earnestness in his voice somehow melted me from the start. The rawness with which he recounts joyful memories just wrenches your heart right in two!
Both, but more cry. It's not a sad book. Rather the opposite. It's a book full of such joy and warmth and tenderness that it makes you ache.
"Probably the best book in my library."
I could go on for days about this book. Really, I was hesitant to start with. I loved "Bear, Otter and the Kid", but was completely on the fence about the follow up - it lacked something; to flippant I think. So when this book landed, I had my doubts.
Boy, was I wrong. It's simply wonderful! It's sad and funny, hopeful and sometimes dark, real and imagined all in equal measure and quality. It's hard to image that a book about a boy and guardian angel could be anything but trite, but TL Klune has an expert touch that keeps you engaged all the while.
I cried and laughed, and it the end, love love love this book. There's a movie of this book in my head and I think it would be awesome.
And I found it - the easter egg from "Bear, Otter and the Kid". It made me smile.
"Very well described in the title!"
I loved T.J. Klunes other book so when this became availiable on audio, I wanted to listen to it - but the title surprised me a little, since it did not sound like a lovestory. And it isnt - but it is.
It is mostly a story about love for a lost father and the depression, sorrow and confusion that comepletly takes over the mind and body of a very young man. It is also about regaining faith in life and in God and the coporal angles aside, it is enough to make you wonder about your own faith.
Surprisingly it is also a suspense novel.
All in all, the lovestory between the MC and his angel is the background tread.
It is very well written, as T.Js other books. Written as it is in first person narrative, you follow the MCs mental jumps through time and place, and it can be a little difficult to remember were you started.
The narration of this book must be one of the most difficult I have encountered and the narrator is amazing! I think it would have been an impossible listen if he hadnt been this good.
At first I was a little irritated of the way it sometimes sound like he is narrating from the bottom of a bottle, but accualty begun to appriciate it as this made me able to follow the storyline better, since it is only done when the MC shifts mental pathways and it helps you to know when the flashback is over.
The story kind of stays with you in the way stories does when it moves you or makes you think.
All in all, it is worth a credit - but you should not expect a light listen!
One of the best...
Convoluted and complex plot that explains enough to be satisfying but not so much that you are left with nothing to wonder about. Could probably have done with a less heavy-hand in some places, but it blended well overall and the narrator is able to smooth over what I think reading would have been more jarring. I was definitely not expecting this and I am really glad I took the chance with this book.
This book was heartbreakingly beautiful. TJ Klune is an author that I recommend to all of my friends. I am currently making my way through his entire library. He has a habit of installing humor into his books, while still making his characters believably real. This was on the more serious side than his books usually are, but look at the subject material.
"Very deep, interesting narration"
Benji Green lives in a small town in Oregon and has lost his dad – he drowned in a river nearby. He and his dad were very close and he is struggling still with the loss of a man who was his father and his best friend.
While he struggles with this loss he balances on the edge of extreme depression, to the point where drowning himself seems like it might be an option. He is saved from this possibility by a “man” falling from the sky – not just any man but his guardian angel, Caleil (“Cal”).
Benji has felt Cal before, but has never seen him or realized it was anything more than his imagination until Cal “falls” and enters the human realm in a human form. Together they cut through a mystery that holds the little town captive with it’s shockingness and also battle on other “fronts” to find Cal’s Truth.
In the end – after a lot of twists and turns – we get a glorious happy ending and at least some of the mystery gets solved.
I’m going to just go out and say it: this was not my favorite TJ Klune book.
I know. I am entirely in the minority.
It won awards for Pete’s sake! Everywhere you look, 5 star reviews. Many, many people adored this book.
Well, I guess I’m going to have to be happy living in the minority.
There are absolutely elements of this book that are genius. Touching. Heartbreaking. Thought provoking. Astounding. No joke, some amazingly eloquent, gut-wrenching and MOVING writing. But it was absolutely buried at times.
It’s a long book. 18 hours in audio format. There is a lot of the book – in my opinion – that could have been trimmed to focus on the amazingly simple and beautiful story buried in a lot of detail and (dare I say it) repetition.
To me the problems lie primarily in the editing. For example: I think that the message of Benji’s grief was made clear. Very clear. Maybe we could have heard a bit less of the grief and still understood how it affected him.
We got to see how awesome Big Eddy is, but maybe at the expense of making Benji a more likable character. When it came time for us to root for the pairing of Benji and Cal I was hard pressed to see what Cal saw in Benji. Maybe a bit more time could have been spent building Benji up as someone an angel could love, instead of seeing him as someone in need of rescue.
As for the rest – well, here personal taste comes in to play. I know there was some – probably amazingly artistically fantastic- analogies and metaphors – God and Big Eddy, the Trio, the Archangels… deep stuff. But I kept getting bogged down in the fact that I despise the idea of God being made into this separate vengeful creature with all these big plans for every last person and then “testing” them and “testing” his Angels, etc. I just hate that way of thinking, so it distracted me mightily from enjoying this particular plot turn. I can distantly appreciate that having a gay archangel fall to earth to rescue a depressed guy after his dad dies and then having the archangel also have a crisis in faith himself is probably an amazing allegory for something, but I didn’t really feel motivated to figure it all out. (Parts of the plot reminded me of Supernatural: Cas is hanging out with Sam and Dean and then there’s a deeper darker subplot in On High (Heaven) and then more drama on earth. This just didn’t have the sarcastic, drunken demon hunting to lighten the mood between deep and meaningful moments.) So, for those of you who dig the fallen-angel story-line and appreciate finding the hidden meaning in stories – this book is right up your alley.
I feel like this at Oscar time too. Sometimes, I just don’t seem to like what wins awards…I can appreciate the artistic genius, but I can’t necessarily call it something “I recommend”. As a result I have a tough time rating this book. It felt like work to get through at times and honestly, if I wasn’t writing this review, I would have given up on it as soon as the angels started talking about being cast out and God’s “trials”, etc. That’s just really not my cup of tea.
Story rating: 2.5 of 5 stars
Matt Baca did a phenomenal job with this. I don’t know how much say he gets in the production aspect, but I really appreciated the work they did. Much of this book is a “flashback” or in Benji’s head, meaning if you were reading it, you’d know because it’s in italics. To account for this there is a special echo-y effect that they used to give the impression of being in Benji’s head rather than experiencing it in real time. I appreciated this as it helped keep the story straight. To some it may seem gimmicky and might even bug you because it gets used a lot. I liked it.
Matt did a great job with making individual characters sound unique, without going over the top. I particularly liked his version of Lola, Benji’s mom. She had this great world-weary voice I thought was spot-on.
I hadn’t listened to any of his other work, but I would look for it now.
I highly recommend his narration and give the audio version of the book a 4 of 5.
Overall, together, I give the audio version of Into this River I Drown a 3 of 5 hearts because the narration really added to the story and the story, though really long, had a great message and some amazingly creative ideas.
3 stars – It was good
"Not the best of TJ Klune, but a powerful story"
Not the best of TJ Klune, but a powerful story none the less. There were some parts that were hard to get through for some reason and others that captured my rapt attention for hours. Matt Baca was definitely a great choice for a narrator though.
This isn't a book, or a performance. This is a mood. The tone is set with the cover and is carried forth when we meet Benji, who is so filled with hurt an loss. It bleeds out and into you, so be prepared for lots of tear shed.
It's dark, mysterious, deceitful and sorrowful. It's strength, courage, hope and faith. It's so very TJ, and so very beautiful.
I adore Kal, as everyone who gets to meet him does. He's goofy with a wondrous curiosity of a child with an intensity and depth of someone timeless. Did I mention he's a ginger? *waggles brows* I really need my own Kal, maybe if I pray hard enough??
The narrator was absolutely perfect. Perfect for Benji, perfect for Kal, perfect on setting the mood of the story. I think this one is going to stick with me for. long, long time.
This story was not what I expected it was all types of feels of my heart
"Calile? Yes please!"
Loved it. A totally unique story with steamy love and thrilling intrigue and tense, life threatening antics. Klune's love of daddies and bears continues in these stories, a minority genre that is represented well.
"Interesting, But Flawed"
Long and meandering story revolving primarily around Benji Green, who several years after the death of his father (was it an accident or something more sinister!) feels so alone and depressed that he prays for help because he feels that he is struggling and can't continue. His prayers are answered when Cal, who is not perfect, but is by far and away the most likeable character in the book, literally drops from the skies, and a love story begins! I wish that the story had been centred around him as I probably would have liked the book more, though there are (as is usual with this author) several interesting characters, some I loved and others I loathed!
For me, Benji himself is not always the most likeable character and I kept wishing he would 'grow a pair' as I found him to be selfish and spineless! There is a lot of unnecessary repetition concerning Benji's dream about his father. Initially, I found his dreams added to the story, but by three quarters of the way through the book this really began to irritate me and I struggled to stay with the story, though I have to say that I'm pleased I did for the ending!
Usually I'm a big fan of TJ Klune, having read or listened to several of his wonderful books, but I have to say that had this been the first one I'm not sure I would have listened or read to any of his other books, as in my opinion this one falls short!
What kept me sticking with this story was the excellent narration, as in the hands of a less accomplished narrator I would have given up!
If you haven't listened to any of TJ Klune's books previously then I suggest you start with 'Tell Me It's Real' or 'Bear, Otter and The Kid', but avoid this one!
beautifully written story that covers grief loss and betrayal, I cried many tears, this story made me want to be a better person
"Be prepared for highly emotional journey throughou"
For the first time in a long time, I felt so emotionally overwhelmed. Benjamin's story was truly captivating, emotional and very thought provoking. It was everything all at once. Life, choice, grief, pain, horror, death,anger, loss, shock, denial choice. Love. Betrayal. Miracle. Sacrifice. Everything.
“My name is Benjamin Edward Green, after my father, our first and middle names transposed. People call me Benji. Big Eddie wanted me to carry his name, but felt I should have my own identity, hence the switch. I don’t mind, knowing it will always bind us together. It’s a gift, and because of him, I’ve been able to find my life again. I’ve been able to find meaning in all the colors of the world. Because of him, I’ve found my home. This is at once the end and the beginning. This is the story of my love of two men. One is my father. The other is a man who fell from the sky.”
The narrator, Matt Baca , did a truly superb job, nails every voice astonishingly. The differentiation of each of characters were maintained all the way through. It looked like he told the story of his life. I felt the emotions with every fiber of my being. He is the best fit for it. Bravo!
Well, this is exactly what I want every romance to be like. It is a brilliant example how a poem about the bond between a parent and child could be a real beauty. This is one of the best books I've ever read . It was my third book by this author and he's been becoming my favorite.
I am so glad I read this remarkable book! It's been a tremendous pleasure! Yes, it was a very heavy read with several moments stopping your breath but it is a powerful piece of LGBT fiction that need to be placed on the most visible spot on your bookshelf.
Thank you Mr. Klune for this absolutely captivating book!
this book was simply AMAZING. amazing story. great narration. I really stuck at reviews, all I have to say is you'll most likely enjoy this if you like a good story! I might even get the print version to read it along with my next listen!
"like swimming through treacle"
this is a none story. it is slow and boring. the flashbacks are tedious and repetitive.
not into spoilers but we know from the start that the father is dead, so the flashback to his mother breaking the news was like pulling teeth. she took 10 minutes to get out of the car.. there was no build up to suspense at any point. no tear jerking or anything. this book would benefit by having about 6 hrs chopped out. i fell asleep around chapter 20. so decided to send it back for a refund..
the one good point was the narrater who tried his best to make something of a rubbish story.
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