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January River

4.54  ·  Rating details ·  56 ratings  ·  40 reviews
Five friends. One dog. One river carrying a secret.

When one of their friends goes missing, everything comes crashing down for the small group of childhood friends in the small town of Greenfield. Ethan takes it hard. Then he loses his dog, his only consolation.

Hoping to start anew, Ethan leaves Greenfield and moves to New York City. Far from the ghosts of his childhood and
Kindle Edition, 223 pages
Published April 3rd 2020 by Bernard Jan (first published September 1st 2007)
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Average rating 4.54  · 
Rating details
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Apr 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
January River is truly a coming of age story about two brothers (Ethan and Will) along with their friends growing up in their rural town of Greenfield, Nebraska. The remainder of the story mainly encompasses Ethan’s life after he moves to New York and begins his life into adulthood.

Honestly, I’ve been yearning to read this book since I first discovered it on Goodreads. I fell in love with Bernard Jan’s two newer books and have been waiting for this one to be released in English.

I cannot spoil t
Apr 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
January River is the third book I've read from author Bernard Jan. Although he's written a few others, they are in his native Croatian language, and I must wait until they are translated into English. When this one became available in early April, I jumped on the opportunity to get a copy and schedule it in my queue. I finished the novel over two days this week and now it's time to share my thoughts on it.

January River seems like an unusual title, right? What does it refer to? A body of water in
Apr 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bernard Jan never ceases to amaze with his emotionally packed, so ‘true to life’, and well written books. The characters in this latest novel, ‘January River’ are life-like and jump out of the pages at the reader. This is truly a story you won’t want to miss. Engaging, heartbreaking at times, and filled with passion throughout. Highly recommended!

This was a buddy read with my daughter Mischenko. Please check out her review also! 🙂
Stjepan Cobets
Apr 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
My rating 4.7

The book "January River" by Bernard Jan is, in my opinion, his best work and really liked his style of writing and the story of a boy growing up in a small village. The writer takes us to the picturesque little town of Greenfield where Ethan lives with his brother, and they hang out with a few friends. They love playing on the January River. Ethan adores nature and forest landscapes, and the whole world fascinates him. In the course of one winter, they find an injured dog that Ethan
Miriam Smith (A Mother’s Musings)
Apr 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebook
Bernard Jan is a novelist and poet from Croatia and has had three novels and a book of poems released in English. ‘January River’ is about five friends, one dog and one river carrying a secret. All rivers carry their secrets but not every river keeps its secret forever.....
You can tell the author is passionate about reading and writing and that his kindness, love and empathy toward all living creatures truly shines through from his fantastically descriptive and endearing narrative. I really enjo
Jul 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
January River by Bernard Jan
January River is a book about a journey of a kid from boyhood through adult. He experiences several traumatic events that impact his life and cause him many struggles. The title has a double meaning: the name of a river near his boyhood home where he witnesses the death of one of his best friends, and the name given to a dog Ethan and his brother Will rescues found near the river that helps Ethan through some of his darkest days. As a reader, one is with Ethan one ma
Apr 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Theirs was an idyllic town, until the loss of one boy crushes the delicate bonds of childhood for five friends who grow up to go their separate ways, secrets and shame intact. When Ethan comes home again, he has become an adult, has faced the best and worst life has to offer, yet still relies on his animal companion as a compass for his future as he comes to terms with an event that terrified him in his youth. Will the truth set him free or destroy the life he has grown up to life?

Bernard Jan wr
Jul 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
January River is a book about a journey of a kid from boyhood through adult. He experiences several traumatic events that impact his life and cause him many struggles. The title has a double meaning: the name of a river near his boyhood home where he witnesses the death of one of his best friends, and the name given to a dog Ethan and his brother Will rescues found near the river that helps Ethan through some of his darkest days. As a reader, one is with Ethan one many of his childhood escapes u ...more
Nico Genes
Apr 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An emotional rollercoaster wonderfully written and beautifully crafted.

Greenfield, a small American town, where diversity in terms of religion, nationality and personal interests were accepted and tolerated, seems to be the paradise on earth. Surrounded by great forests, a beautiful river, populated with wonderful people, isolated from all the happenings in the rest of the USA, this place is nothing far from the ideal place to live in.

Ethan, the main character, had a wonderful and peaceful life
David R. Dowdy
May 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
January River is a lovely story whose content belies its compactness . Well-written, it takes you through the miles and years of life. It reminds me as it will others about our journeys. The joy feels wonderful. The melancholy hurts.

Redemption is a feeling that accompanies the great events of our lives. Good or bad, an arrival or departure, we learn about change early. It returns time and again to build us up or knock us down. Bernard Jan has captured it well.

Take precaution because this book wi
Píaras Cíonnaoíth
Apr 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A masterclass in storytelling...

January River by Bernard Jan is a wonderfully written and richly descriptive novel with brilliantly drawn characters and settings. It’s a unique work that will captivate the reader from the opening chapter. Skillfully constructed, this well-written life affirming tale will have you turning the pages from beginning to end. There’s also plenty of imagery in the writing style that makes you feel you are right there in the story, and that’s something I look for in a g
Leslie aka StoreyBook Reviews
January River is a coming of age story that focuses on Ethan and Will McCoy.  They are from a small town in Nebraska that is picturesque but not without its own share of tragedies.  Ethan and Will are thick as thieves and have a few friends that do what young men do, have adventures and try to avoid too much trouble.  As we watch them grow up, they leave the town and end up in New York City.  The story at this point really focuses on Ethan and his life, meeting his wife, his career, and watching ...more
Stephanie Jane
See more of my book reviews on my blog, Literary Flits

January River is Bernard Jan's beautiful response to the Great American Novel, a story of boys growing to adulthood in the seemingly idyllic rural setting of a small town named Greenfield. I was reminded strongly of Kent Haruf's Plainsong trilogy and feel readers who enjoyed those novels, as I did, could also appreciate January River. Jan takes his time to tell this story well and I appreciated the gentle pace. It allows the narrative to drif
Kristina Gallo
Jun 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Bernard Jan has an awesome skill, to express sad things like a beautiful way of life. He showed this in January River too. Chapter by chapter, he is leading the reader in the various specter of feelings. Ethan lost his friend and this is a burden that follows him his whole life, but he also experienced all the benefits and became famous. Everything has a price, and Ethan paid a too big price for his success, by losing people he loved the most. He suffers from a kind of anxiety but he deals with ...more
Julia Walker
Apr 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jan is definitely a storyteller, weaving a tale about coming of age in small-town America that puts the reader in the center of the story, feeling everything the main character feels and experiencing the ups and downs of regular or normal life. One can not help but feel warmth and sadness as the story unfolds.

January River is a lovely book, a great read and leaves one feeling a little nostalgic. I would not call it a story of hope, and yet it might be. In my mind, it is on the level of Legends
Linda Thompson
Apr 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
There’s something very heartwarming about a novel that includes an animal. While reading Jan’s last book I took each step with him as he let the love for his cat help him reach the right decision. In January River, Jan has included a dog that will also touch your heart. This is a complex story that wraps around you and doesn’t let go. When Ethan’s friend disappears, his dog is his only consolation. Then when he loses his dog, well, you’ll just have to read January River to find out. Jan is a mas ...more
Mark Schultz
Apr 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is well worth reading slowly to savor every word. The story has such a leisurely feel to it, you will want to take your time. It is so well crafted, with a dark undercurrent; while not overly intimidating, it pushes you to reach the conclusion. Take your time, you will get there and you will be glad you did.
These characters come across as so real, their dialogue is effortless and natural. I laughed many times.
The author has a knack for descriptions and scene setting also, not too much
Feb 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing
5,5/5 if thats possible.

Seriously, tho... There are some stories that just make you tear up at the very end. It was a calm, yet exciting adventure... Like a river floating towards the waterfall.... Your ride is smooth in the beggining, but towards the end it gets more and more wild. A tale that tells the simple, yet complex, story about growing up, about leaving, about wanting to spread your wings and fly away, so far you forget everything that shaped you. A tale that tells the simple life story
Dario Cannizzaro
Apr 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
While the term coming-of-age is technically used to indicate the transition from childhood to adulthood, I do believe that this story really tells Ethan's own internal journey from "child" to "adult".

I wanted to finish the book very quickly, cause wanted to see what was happening next, but had to stop one time too often to catch my breath, as Ethan's thoughts and memories were hitting the right buttons on my own thoughts and memories. I did cry with other of Bernard's books and won't hide that s
Linda Lpp
Jun 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Not many books leave me so overcome with teary emotion, that I must step back. I say to myself this lovely story is more than I can handle at this time. I believe I'm still grieving for my beloved feline friend. She died less than six months ago.

I got to 42%of the book and will resume reading in the near future.

Your book Bernard is laden with life altering issues young people often experience. Both good and bad. Happy and sad. Hope and despair. And an issue so difficult to decimate, bullying. N
Allen Madding
Apr 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A heartwrenching story of coming of age

Life throws a lot of curves sometimes and things never work out quite like we expect. January River is a story of innocence lost, loss of dear loved ones, love, forgiveness, and redemption. Written so well, it brought tears to my eyes. Highly recommended
Koen Van den Eeckhout
Apr 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Koen by: Bernard Jan
Shelves: fiction
This is the third book I have read by Bernard Jan (after A World Without Color and Look For Me Under the Rainbow) and it is definitely the one I like the most. As it is a proper novel (the other two were more novellas) we have a welcome variety in scenes, locations, characters and character development. Rather than a storyteller, Bernard is a writer who can evoke deep emotions with his excellent writing. He uses the perfect wordings and well-chosen metaphors to paint a scene and give us a look i ...more
Toni Osborne
May 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
“January River is a heartwarming story you should not pass. A simple tale of a boy growing up in the picturesque little town of Greenfield till many years later he is invited to come to New York.

If you think this story may be boring…....think again. The beautiful landscape of words and emotions will grab you and won’t let you put the book down till you reach the conclusion. The words flow smoothly through the page and highlight how passionate the author’s is about his subject. The narrative is
Rebecca Gransden
May 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
An engaging coming-of-age story. The town of Greenfield is a classic American backwater town, surrounded by wilds and with a close-knit community. Young Ethan discovers a Labrador dog while out exploring the wilderness with his brother. Worried for the distressed creature, they hurry to the town vet. Soon Ethan has a new wet-nosed companion. Events then come quickly and a series of tragedies strike that leave deep and long-standing wounds. As Ethan tries to come to terms with this set of circums ...more
Stanley McShane
Jun 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: author-request
This coming of age novel is staged around a western Nebraska town. The author captures the essence of being a young boy in a farm community. Being the “little brother” Ethan is following an older brother in a bucolic setting of rivers and grain fields and quiet summer days. He gets to explore life and nature. He finds a dog near-death that he rescues and nurtures back to health. Their bond becomes inseparable.

Losing one member of his childhood gang haunts him throughout the book. His older broth
Sara Kjeldsen
May 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was a beautiful tale of five friends growing up in an idyllic town where a river runs through. Life takes a harsh turn when one of their friends passes away. It was a pleasure to follow the lives of these young people in the coming of age story.
Traistaru Iustina
May 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Thomas Bruso
Jul 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An emotional roller coaster ride. A beautiful, dazzling, poetic journey of words and people and animals. A powerful message of hope, love and sacrifice. A truly gifted storyteller. Well done, Bernard!
Apr 14, 2020 added it
Bernard Jan has a great ability to pull you into his stories. In "January River" his simple descriptions are successfully dipped into melancholy and sentimentality, making it easy for readers to relate -- it feels as if our own story, our own experience of childhood, our own memories are being reflected upon. Those feelings of deep guilt, fear and regret over the most trivial of circumstances all of us have experienced as children, are accurately portrayed. It is also refreshing to stumble upon ...more
Stefan Vucak
Apr 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Making Connections: 5977. - January River by Bernard Jan 5 13 Nov 30, 2020 03:47AM  

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"There is no greater joy than to share what you love with those who appreciate it." - Bernard Jan

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

Readers' Favorite Gold Medalist 2020
Readers' Favorite Bronze Medalist 2019

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 i

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