Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Banks of Certain Rivers by Jon Harrison

I wasn't sure what to think of this book when the title was first introduced to me. To tell you the truth, I usually gravitate toward books with a lot of clout, and a ton of press behind them. That technique for finding books hasn't always been the best way of finding great books. I bought The Banks of Certain Rivers on a whim after an author I love and respect said she'd loved it. It was a deal on Kindle, so I thought "what the heck?" It did not disappoint. 
Neil Kazenzakis is a very popular high school teacher, and the beloved cross-country coach. When Neil's wife becomes profoundly disabled in a terrible accident that happens while he is at a teaching conference, he struggles to right his life. He's left a single father to his teenage son, and the son-in-law of a woman with Alzheimers. Carol, his mother-in-law, has moments of lucidity, but most days she spends in a cloud of forgetfulness. Although Carol's illness is troubling, it has led Neil to Lauren, Carol's caretaker, who is also Neil's new girlfriend. Things appear to be on the up and up when everything turns sideways with the release of a video. In this digital age, anything goes, and Neil finds this out as things start to spiral out of control. As the reader, you are left wondering if Neil did attack that student, or if it is simply a case of kids making a video to get their teacher in trouble. Goodness knows children are far more savvy on the internet than we are. Even Neil begins to wonder if things are really as they appear. Can he even trust himself? 
Not complicated enough for you? Well, the author's got you covered there! Lauren, Neil's new girlfriend (did you forget about the disabled wife?) is pregnant. Is it still too dull a story line for you? Neil's son goes missing after Neil reveals to him that Lauren is pregnant. Full of twists and turns, The Banks of Certain Rivers was an unlikely surprise. 

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