Review | Into this River I Drown by TJ Klune

Into this River

About the Book: 2014 Lambda Literary Award Winner for Best Gay Romance

Five years ago, Benji Green lost his beloved father, Big Eddie, who drowned when his truck crashed into a river. All called it an accident, but Benji thought it more. However, even years later, he is buried deep in his grief, throwing himself into taking over Big Eddie’s convenience store in the small town of Roseland, Oregon. Surrounded by his mother and three aunts, he lives day by day, struggling to keep his head above water.

But Roseland is no ordinary place.

With ever-increasing dreams of his father’s death and waking visions of feathers on the surface of a river, Benji’s definition of reality is starting to bend. He thinks himself haunted, but whether by ghosts or memories, he can no longer tell. It’s not until the impossible happens and a man falls from the sky and leaves the burning imprint of wings on the ground that he begins to understand that the world around him is more mysterious than he could have possibly imagined. It’s also more dangerous, as forces beyond anyone’s control are descending on Roseland, revealing long hidden truths about friends, family, and the man named Calliel who Benji is finding he can no longer live without.

M/M Paranormal Romance
Dreamspinner Press | March 24, 2013
amazon2 bn2

“Time is a river, I’ve learned.  Always moving forward.”

Go read any review of Into this River I Drown and I guarantee you’re going to hear about utter devastation.  Sobbing and wailing.  Wookie crying.  People will warn you to ‘bring tissues, prepare your heart, but be ready to fall in love with this story’.  It frightened me!  I don’t dislike crying, but I’ll admit to putting off a book everyone says will crush me.  That’s exactly what I did with Into this River I Drown.  Even though I love TJ Klune’s writing with a passion, I was still too nervous to inflict that pain upon myself.

Then the other night, after DNFing another book, I was flipping through my Kindle and my eyes were drawn to this title.  Suddenly I felt strong.  I felt sure that just because everyone else was wrecked didn’t mean I’d feel the same way.  Hell, maybe I wouldn’t even like Into this River I Drown.  So, I opened it up and started reading, confident in my heart of stone.  (Which is a joke, because I get teary from television commercials!)  From there I only gained in confidence the more I read.  I liked it.  I liked it a lot.  I just didn’t think anything was happening to warrant violent sobbing.

At about 70% the story took a turn I didn’t anticipate and I. Lost. It.  Seriously.  I wish I’d had my daughter take a picture of my face.  I was swollen, red, tears streaming, gulping, and blowing my nose.  My breath was coming out in crying gasps.  Heaving sobs.  I was definitely in need of tissues.

I remained crying, in varying degrees of heaviness, until I’d finished.  With my face dry and stiff from all those salty tears, I started thinking about why Into this River I Drown was able to yank all that emotion out of me.  I came to the conclusion that it’s because TJ Klune is so freaking gifted!  He knows how to realistically write grief.  Grief was what made me cry.  I felt such pain, and it was because I was connected to Benji’s pain.  It was special, even if it did make me splotchy and drippy.  You can’t deny the beauty of a book that evokes that much feeling.  It was stunning.

As far as the actual plot goes, I don’t really want to get into it.  Like many of TJ’s books, the story is mysterious, and for me to talk too much would ruin it.  I’ll just mention the connections.  For a book like this to work the connections have to be strong.  Big Eddie and Benji’s connection is the first, and main, thread of the story.  There are a lot of flashbacks, since that’s the only way you’re going to understand Benji’s deep love for his father.  We’re not just told, we’re shown.  Rest assured, the flashbacks are built into the book gracefully, almost dancing back and forth with the present day.  Then, there’s the connection between Benji and his mom, which in its own way is almost as integral to the story as Big Eddie.  There’s the connections to Benji’s aunts.  And finally, and equally as precious, is the relationship between Benji and Cal.  It’s all a big spiderweb that hooks you like a bug and then swallows you whole.

There were flaws.  There were times it felt like the story was crawling between scenes, so I think maybe some tighter editing would have helped.  There was also one character I struggled with.  Truthfully, neither of those complaints matter.  They won’t be what I remember.  They don’t stop me from wanting to rush out and buy Into this River I Drown in print.  They definitely won’t hinder my rereading this next year.

I love TJ Klune.

4_5 feather

About Birdie

Don’t look for her in any bar, club, crazy raging party, or anywhere there may be a large gathering of strangers. She’s more likely to be found tucked into the corner of the couch watching one of her favorite shows, or preferably under a comforter with her current novel.

10 Responses

  1. Oh wow!! I am very intrigued about this book but also kind of scared because of your reaction, lol. I may have to give it a shot one day when I’m in the right mood!


  2. taysinfinitethoughts

    I love a good book that makes you feel. That’s how you know an author is a great author. when you can feel every characters emotion and connect with them on a personal level. It just makes a book that much better. This book sounds really good and I will add it to my list and hopefully get some time to read it. This was a great review, thank you!


  3. Beware Of The Reader

    Well Wendy I also cry during commercials. Especially yours in the US as I remember one asking to finance animal shelters two years ago while watching the TV in our hotel room in SF 😉 So now you are telling me that I have to add this one too to my never ending TBR???? Wonderful review Xoxo


  4. I didn’t even know this book existed?? But hmmm. Not sure it’s my type of book. I like emotion in books, but really just sadness and grief. Idk. It depends on the whole story and characters, I guess. I kind of want to read it now just so see if I would cry lol since I don’t rarely shed tears over a book, and I don’t think I’ve ever sobbed because of one…


  5. […] There was no way I was going to pick books for this list and leave TJ Klune out.  Into this River I Drown isn’t my favorite TJ Klune book, but it is up there.  TJ once said that he regrets putting a sex scene in this story, and I agree with that.  It did feel out of place.  BUT, everything else was firmly in place.  Into this River I Drown made me bawl my eyes out! (My Review) […]


Tell me something!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.