Review: TJ Klune – Olive Juice

olive juice
Author: TJ Klune
Reviewer: Lucy
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: MM Contemporary

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Summary: 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.

Review: I really went back and forth about whether to read this book after seeing reviews of how angst-filled it is. I wasn’t sure I wanted to put myself through that with no guarantee of a big time happy at the end. Since spoilers are absolutely verboten with this one, I asked a friend if it at least ends well. His response, “THIS. ONE. IS. PURE. ANGST. Not gonna lie.” (Thanks to Todd for the heads up). I was going to wait until someone did the inevitable spoiler and then decide. But I didn’t. And I’m glad I didn’t.
To try to review without giving anything at all away is so difficult because I agree with others who have read it – you need to read it with no preconceptions. I saw the reviews talking about how painful it is and I was afraid. Those who know me know that I am the anti-angst, I am a delicate little flower when it comes to reading and I go for fluffy, sweet, cute, funny, etc. No angst. I took a deep breath and decided, yes, I was going to try it. I should mention this is the first TJ Klune book I’ve ever read, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.
David and Phillip have lost their way from each other, due to an unimaginable event. They are not young men and they had been together a long time. They are still in love but David carries so much guilt. But he still knows what Phillip means to him. “In David’s head, the word Phillip meant many, many things: good and kind and sweet and handsome and hurt and pain …” So what happens makes it all the sadder.
It is the story of two men, yes, but also how you cope with the aftermath of something you’d never expect to happen; how you cope with the things you can’t unsay and how you move forward when there seems to be no way to do so. It was not a romance, to me.
And despite my fears, I read it. I actually ended up starting it and then couldn’t leave my seat until I finished it. The book is angst to the highest degree, bittersweet and has an overarching sense of bone deep sadness. “…sometimes, I can’t even breath at the thought of it.” But here is where I differ from some other readers. I finished this book with a sense of sadness, yes, but also with a feeling of hope for these men in so much pain. I read it and hurt for them. And the thing that nearly did me in? The meaning behind the title words. Olive Juice.

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