January River

Fiction - Literary
235 Pages
Reviewed on 08/03/2020
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Author Biography

Bernard Jan is a pen name of an award-winning novelist and a poet from Croatia, and he has released four books in English.

A World Without Color is a true story of the last three days he spent with his 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. His latest YA cross-genre novel, Cruel Summer, is a gripping story of an abused teenager from New Manhattan who only wants to skate, but they have other plans for him.

His first two books were written at the beginning of the war in Croatia in 1991 amidst air alerts and illusory attempts when he wanted to believe and think that life is normal, that everything is all right with the world. He has published five novels, two novellas, and one book of poems in Croatian. Four of his books, including the book of poems, were translated into English.

His desire to help others came to the fore during his years advocating environmental protection and advocacy of animal rights. As part of his 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.

    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

January River is a work of fiction penned in the literary style by author Bernard Jan. Focusing on central themes of family, friendships, and secrets that we hold deep, this work is aimed at mature readers and packs a real emotional punch. The central protagonist is Ethan, who as a child had a friend go missing under dire circumstances, and later loses his loving dog. Traumatized by these events, we watch Ethan grow up and try to lead the life he’d planned for himself, but slowly his doubts about the past begin to creep in. To reconcile it and have a quiet mind at last, he’ll have to dig up some shocking secrets and finally confront reality.

Author Bernard Jan has crafted a unique work of fiction quite unlike anything else I’ve ever read. The blend of genres woven into this highly literary piece delivers emotional realism, dark secretive thriller moments, and a deep and meaningful discussion of our connection to the natural world, all at once. The character development is also stellar, especially for Ethan's speech and thought presentation as we delve into his past, present, and his mental state. Ultimately the tale does deliver some really warm moments and excellent resolutions, blending the light and dark aspects of life to create a layered and beautiful work. Overall, I would highly recommend January River to fans of immersive realistic fiction, heartfelt tales of love and friendship, and psychologically, emotionally open narrative voices.