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.
I admit that it took a few chapters for me to get into The Banks of Certain Rivers by Jon Harrison. I’m glad I (nearly) always finish books I start because this one completely gripped me. After reading it, I was surprised to learn that it’s Mr. Harrison’s debut novel. It has all the hallmarks of being written by a very seasoned author.
Honestly, the book has everything. Love and loss, family and betrayal… Life. The two major conflicts in the story kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. I almost wish they’d gone on a bit longer. It seemed like they climaxed quickly and then ended. I would have enjoyed a tad bit more resolution, but he did tie it all up nicely. All the characters were written so well and given their own unique personalities. I’ve read too many books where the author just drops people into the story for no reason, nor do they give any dimension. Not so for this book, even for the smallest character. Each one seemed to be written with purpose and gave a bit to the story. It really helped to enhance my experience in reading the The Banks of Certain Rivers because obviously everyone in the story counted, not just the main ones.
Jon Harrison really writes with passion. You can tell, when you are completely consumed with what’s happening in the story, that he feels the same way. He’s feeling what his people are feeling because they are written to true to life. I honestly felt as if I were listening to someone tell me their true story. It made the book so much more to me. If you’re looking to read something with complexity that gets deep into your soul, give this one a read. I really enjoyed it.