REVIEW: The Dove In The Belly by Jim Grimsley

At the University of North Carolina, Ronny’s made some friends, kept his secrets, survived dorm life, and protected his heart.

Until he can’t. Ben is in some ways Ronny’s opposite; he’s big and solid where Ronny is small and slight. Ben’s at UNC on a football scholarship. Confident, with that easy jock swagger, and an explosive temper always simmering. He has a steady stream of girlfriends. Ben’s aware of the overwhelming effect he has on Ronny. It’s like a sensation of power. So easy to tease Ronny, throw playful insults, but it all feels somehow. loaded.

Meanwhile Ronny’s mother has moved to Vegas with her latest husband. And Ben’s mother is fighting advanced cancer. A bubble forms around the two, as surprising to Ronny as it is to Ben. Within it their connection ignites physically and emotionally. But what will happen when the tensile strength of a bubble is tested? When the rest of life intervenes?

The Dove in the Belly is about the electric, dangerous, sometimes tender but always powerful attraction between two very different boys. But it’s also about the full cycles of love and life and how they open in us the twinned capacities for grief and joy.

🔸 young men finding their way🔸

🔸 death of a family member🔸

🔸 toxic masculinity🔸

🔸 realistic relationship🔸

This book is beautiful and it defies categorization. There is romance in “The Dove in the Belly” of the rough-edged, unfinished, youthful kind. The voices of the characters were the voice of young men I once went to school with and I was immediately taken back in time.

This isn’t really a romance, although there are aspects of love and the blossoming of a relationship. This book reads as though it’s destined to become a literary classic. It is poetic and smooth and runs the gamut from the initial flutterings of that dove in the belly to the brazen first chances that are taken. This story is about two young men who are very different from one another but manage to find a meeting place somewhere between their two worlds. Ben is a football player, well built, and a jock with mouthy, bullish friends. Ronny is slight, creative, a soft-spoken intellectual and gentle and has just been abandoned by his mother … again.

There is a very slow growth of friendship between these two characters. It is simple at times, complex at others but always engaging. The progression of the characters crept up on me and I found myself wondering what would happen to each of them. I cared about them both in quite different ways.

When Ben reveals to Ronny that his mother has cancer and is receiving devastating treatment, their friendship shifts again. Ronny is able to provide Ben with support without really even understanding what he is doing. I loved the way that Grimsley wrote the interactions between Ben and his family and the way that Ronny seeped into their lives without creating the slightest ripple.

This novel is destined to become a favourite for many readers. I know that it’s going to make its way to my shelf and will be picked up more than once.


Things You May Want To Know: Please be aware, that I’m by no means an expert on what may or may not have the potential to disturb people. I simply list things that I think a reader might want to be aware of. In this book: (SPOILERS) toxic masculinity, mentions of vomiting, a family member dies, description of chemotherapy, description of a person dying of cancer, loss of mother, abandonment, supporting character depicts scenes of dementia, supporting character suffers a stroke, drinking, intoxication, infidelity (acknowledged), physical violence.


Goodreads || Author

I received an ARC of The Dove In the Belly by Jim Grimsley from Livine Querido via Edelweiss in exchange for an unbiased review.

star ratings

Leave a Reply

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

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

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter 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.