Review: Olive Juice by T.J. Klune

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.

This book simply cannot be spoiled and I don’t spoil books. What I will do is talk about is how this book made me feel and what it made me think about.

The story isn’t one that’s new, sadly enough the basics of it is something we have seen numerous times over our lives and either been affected by it, pushed it aside or tried our hardest to forget it happened, grateful that it wasn’t us or someone we knew. It doesn’t need to directly happen to us to feel the damage, the heartbreak, hopelessness and utter lack of answers it brings. 

This story for me is about the need for closure or to use a psychological term, the Need for Cognitive Closure. *** Closure or need for closure (NFC) (used interchangeably with need for cognitive closure (NFCC)) are psychological terms that describe an individual's desire for a firm answer to a question and an aversion toward ambiguity. The term "need" denotes a motivated tendency to seek out information. ***

Told from the singular perspective of David, we meet him as he is sitting outside a fancy hotel going to meet Philip. From his detailed internal dialogue, we know Philip is someone of great importance to David and someone he loves deeply though they have been separated for years. There is an infusion of a third party that isn’t completely solid as who they are to both men until later. Many times, I thought I knew and while my first guess was right, it didn’t lessen the impact of getting it from David himself.

When something tragic happens to us, no matter what it might be, not knowing is the beast of burden. It’s terrible to have so many questions that cannot be answered by anyone and not getting them can cause people to act irrational. I am not in the field of psychology nor do I have any experience other than my own therapy sessions dealing with the Need for Cognitive Closure but I recognize it in David. I see it the way he decides to live his life after the tragedy, how he treats Philip when he doesn’t act the same as David and in his regrets of what he lost. David feels as if his weekly calls and all that he does is being productive when it’s really a distraction of dealing with… it.

Goodness. I have so much I want to say about this book. So much I identified with about meeting, the food and the people that attend. Though again, my experience isn’t the same, it’s one that can almost be felt on a level of empathy with a side of tangible understanding.

While some say this isn’t a romance, I beg to differ. Just because a book doesn’t have on page sex or doesn’t begin with the meet cute to the over the top HEA, doesn’t make it not a romance. What David and Philip have will forever be a romance. Their love story is one for the books with how amazing it all has been. What they have been dealing with is beyond their control but with a chance and a want for change, there can be a new romance between them.

I have to admit, I thought I was made of tougher stuff while reading this but I got to a certain part and lost it. Full on tears and snot but it was such a beautiful moment that I couldn’t help it and honestly didn’t care.

Klune is a master with words and his story telling with Olive Juice is stunning. He has taken what should be recognized nationally at the minimum, but is all too often only covered by the few that acknowledge it’s actually happening, and provided readers with a glimpse into the lives it tears apart. Klune provides readers with facts without shoving it down your throat but making you pause and think… what have you seen? It’s a way of opening your eyes to what you don’t want to see in a place you’d least expect it. Well done, sir.

Olive Juice is simply an achingly bittersweet and heartbreaking story that truly makes you feel and makes you think beyond the lines of what you think you should. It’s just… yeah.


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