Saturday, June 15, 2013

My take on: The Banks of Certain Rivers

After reading just a couple of pages of The Banks of Certain Rivers, I was totally captivated by the writing of Jon Harrison.

In an instant, life as you know it can change. What if the person you loved the most was suddenly taken from you? Physically they're alive, but in every way that counts the person you once knew is gone forever. Would you have the strength to move on? If you did move on, would you be consumed by guilt? At what point do you allow yourself to be happy again?

A freak accident leaves the wife of Neil Kazenzakis in a permanent vegetative state. He is left to raise their son Christopher alone. He has a network of family and friends to help him, but they can't fill the void left by Wendy. He finds some comfort in alcohol and prescription pills. He would rather numb the pain than actually feel it. It's hard to get over someone you've been in love with since the ninth grade.

Neil has always done things right. Upon discovering Wendy was pregnant, Neil gave up the chance at a promising career in Japan. Instead he stayed in their small Michigan town, he became a teacher and did everything he could to provide for his family, becoming a popular teacher and track coach. He did everything by the book. E-mails Neil writes to Wendy offer a unique look into their relationship. Neil knows Wendy will never see his words, but it's therapeutic to get his feelings out. He can still connect with her. In his own way, he can still confide in her. When Neil finally starts to heal, life hits him hard again. Is this a sign? Is someone or something trying to prevent him from being happy?

Neil has a lot on his plate. Not only is he a single father, but he also has to look after his mother-in-law Carol, who is descending into dementia. Lauren, one of Carol's nurses, develops a special bond with Neil. They're both in at a crossroads in their life. Lauren is just coming out of a bad relationship and Neil is wondering if he deserves a fresh start. Secret dinners, stolen kisses, and late-night sleepovers give Neil some hope at a happy life. But what about Wendy? Wendy's mind is long gone, but what if there is some part of her that is angry? What if there is some part of her that can still feel? What about Christopher? Will his relationship with Lauren hurt Chris? He has to tell Chris the truth some time. But when is the right time? Will it ever be the right time? Just when Neil thinks the timing is right, his professional career is sent into a tailspin. A devastating accusation puts not just his career in jeopardy, but his freedom. How much can one person take?

I love reading books about the family dynamic. The majority of similar books I've read were told from a female perspective, but it's refreshing to get a different point of view. A story like this would make a great movie. This was an engaging and emotional roller coaster.

Rating: Superb

Note: I received an e-book in exchange for an honest review.

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