Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Review: The Banks of Certain Rivers


I had been hearing quite a bit of buzz about The Banks of Certain Rivers around the Internet, much of it positive. While Jon Harrison's debut novel is not one I would normally pick up, I decided to give it a try because I had a feeling I'd end up liking it. I was right. This was a really enjoyable novel that kept me turning the pages to find out what would happen next.

Here's the synopsis:
Neil Kazenzakis is barely holding his life together: ever since an accident left his wife profoundly disabled, he's been doing his best as a single dad and popular high school teacher. He's also been dealing with Lauren Downey, his sort-of girlfriend of the past two years who's pushing for a commitment—and for Neil to finally tell his son Christopher about their secret relationship.
Neil's carefully balanced world begins to fall apart when some questionable footage of him is anonymously posted to YouTube...just as Chris learns about Lauren in the worst possible way. Doubting his own recollection of the events in the online video and threatened with the loss of his job and the ability to care for his wife, Neil must find a way to prove the truth to his family, his community, and himself as he struggles to regain the splintered trust of his son.
It sounds like it would be horribly depressing, right? The situations Neil faces are pretty brutal, true, but he has great friendships and relationships to help him get through life. I think things could have seemed over the top had Neil not had he not had his friends and family around. He had people in his corner, who believed in him and stood by him as he tried to figure out how to prove his innocence.

I just loved the scenes between Neil and his son, Chris. Neil seemed to do a pretty outstanding job raising Chris after his wife's accident. In fact, their storyline was probably my favourite part of the novel. Their interactions were so real and you could tell how they struggled but also how much they helped each other.

I don't want to say too much else about the plot because there are subtle twists that I don't want to give away. I will say that the story grabbed me. There was a bit of set up necessary, some back story, that was interesting but it wasn't until the action really started that I realized I was completely invested in the characters' lives. In fact, I was so into the story that I was reading it during commercial breaks while I watched a TV show because I couldn't wait to find out how it turned out for Neil.

If you're looking for a good read, pick up The Banks of Certain Rivers by Jon Harrison. It gives you a little bit of everything - family, love, intrigue - wrapped up in a great story. I definitely recommend it!

Happy reading :)

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