Rating: 5 stars out of 5
For seventy one years, Jackie and John have been inseparable. They met in class as 12 year olds and formed a bond and love that has only gotten deeper and stronger as the years passed. But now all that is about to change. John’s body is riddled with cancer, his pain unbearable. And he has asked Jackie to give him the ultimate gift of love and compassion.
As the two men wait for dusk, the moments are passed in recollections of their long abiding love, a love that has no boundaries, not even death.
Well, I was unable to even get through the synopsis of this incredibly moving story without tears. John & Jackie is an eloquent and deeply emotional story of a love that has endured through the years. Jackie and John meet as children in school. Neither one is particularly popular, each with their own “stigma” that makes them targets and standouts. Drawn together immediately, they forge a bond first of an indelible friendship that turns into love. Jackie and John’s need to protect the other is formed right from the start.
We learn this through Jackie’s memories as he sits by John’s bedside waiting for dusk and the time they will say goodbye. Jackie wheels John’s medical bed through the front doors of their cabin that John built out onto the porch to watch for dusk and hold hands one last time. Hands clutched as tightly as John’s illness will let them, Jackie reminiscences with John over their time together.
TJ Klune portrays these men and their long partnership realistically and with great understanding for types of experiences that a true “Jackie and John” might have gone through as children and as adults. John is such a strong, poignant character with an upbringing that includes the stigma of being poor and an alcoholic,abusive father. His need is only for Jackie, that is his world and we can totally understand the basis for that isolation. A isolation that doesn’t work for Jackie who came from a loving family and a need for others. For Jackie, the world needs to be a little larger and the subsequent misunderstandings that brings rings authentic and heartbreaking. Jackie’s character is a wonderful complement to John’s, his yin to John’s yang. Klune makes us believe in their bond with a sureness and brevity that is wondrous.
What is so remarkable about this story is the fullness and complexity of their long term relationship is relayed through small recollections and bits of shared history while the men wait together for the sun to fall. This book could have easily extended to over 300 pages but TJ Klune manages to pull us into Jackie and John’s life and love in half that length and make it feel real and deep and unforgettable.
As we and the characters wait for dusk to fall on their life together, be prepared for the tears to start falling. It has taken almost no time for us to fall for these men and as the story moves towards it’s gut wrenching conclusion, we will be their heartbroken companions as witness. But TJ Klune has one more thing in store,..for us and Jackie and John before their story is over. I love the ending and hope you will too. This is a story about a never ending love and that ending brought that home. Pick up this remarkable story and delve into Jackie and John’s romance for the ages.
Cover art by Reese Dante. Poignant, perfect, and one of the top covers this year.
ebook, 2nd, 122 pages
Published July 25th 2014 by Dreamspinner Press