In The Banks of Certain Rivers, Neil Kazenzakis is struggling to put his life back together after a tragic accident has left his wife in a permanent state of comatose. Besides teaching and coaching, he's been raising his now teenage son on his own, while trying to keep a romantic relationship with his mother-in-law's private nurse a secret from everyone. Things are running smoothly, until a series of misfortunes threatens to derail his progress and set him back. First, a video surfaces showing Neil in a scuffle with one of the students, then he starts receiving harassing phone calls and emails. If that wasn't bad enough, his son finds about his affair and doesn't take it well.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. The story was interesting, current and relevant. It's hard to believe that this is Harrison's debut novel. It was really well done. While I liked the whole story, I was especially touched by the ending. By then, I had connected with all of the characters and really wanted to see how things worked out for them.
Neil was a sympathetic and likeable character. He's far from perfect, but his particular transgressions made him all the more human to me. I really wanted things to turn out for him. I really liked Christopher, too, who was a pretty good kid when it came right down to it. Lauren rubbed me the wrong way in the beginning. Her first "romantic encounter" with Neil in the book felt a little gratuitous. However, as the story went on, she grew on me and by the end, I liked her as much as I liked Neil.
I loved the series of emails Neil sent to his wife, even though he knew she couldn't read them. It was therapeutic for him and a wonderful way for the author to add details to the story. I was a little sad that they ended a bit abruptly and that the author didn't make use of them throughout the whole story.
I don't want to give too much away about the video, but I will say it was really scary how quickly things got out of hand with it. Neil was lucky to have good people on his side.
détente (page 233): easing of hostility
I really liked the title and the cover of this book. It would definitely draw me in and make me want to pick up the book (if it were in a bookstore) or investigate it further (online). However, I'm not sure what it had to do with the overall story. If there was a reference or explanation somewhere in the story, I'm sorry I missed it.
There were a few bumps in the story, but those were relatively minor and didn't at all detract from my enjoyment of the story. Highly recommended. I'd definitely read another book by this author.
For more information about this book, please visit, The Banks of Certain Rivers website.
I received this electronic copy for review.
The Banks of Certain Rivers by Jon Harrison, ©2013. ASIN B00BXKY6VA(eBook), 319p.