It was interesting to read something outside my comfort zone. I recieved this book for review and I will warn you that The Banks of Certain Rivers is aimed at an adult audience with content more appropriate to that age group. I went back and forth with this book, the sweet moments in the end were what earned the book 3 stars instead of a 2.5. Read on:
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.
Neil, I’ll call him Mr. K, tumbled in headfirst into a whirlwind of problems. I had a few problems connecting with him sometimes but there was always something new to learn about him. Through the course of the first half of the book you see flashbacks to how he came to be who he was now and throughout the book we also see emails, another coping method that I rather enjoyed the concept of. (It’s a bit bittersweet to write to an email address that will never respond or be seen by anyone.)
The two people that I felt, could have been more developed as characters were Lauren and Chris. I never got a good read on Lauren, she seemed like an even more complicated mass of emotions with no real center of stability until she fully took on the role of calming balm to Neil And Chris, sweet teenage boy, a real gentleman also made me raise an eyebrow at his almost puppy-like behavior around his dad but he grew on me. Sort of. I enjoyed Alan the most, he had a calming, sometimes mischievous streak in him that really did a lot for the story. I liked that most of the characters had a hobby or passion, even if they didn’t take much stage time.
Who the antagonists were, that kept me guessing for sure. It added a measure of realness to the story, seeing how a teacher could be brought down by a video and have to face to consequences while almost believing the video himself. The school scandal takes backstage when Chris disappears after Mr. K’s problems spin out of control. It was a bit interesting with some nice father/son moments but I found the resolution to the video trouble much more interesting (note: it might have been Chris’s aforementioned puppy behavior that did it).
The ending is a neatly tied into a bow for everyone but one person that I rather liked (read the review again if you missed who;) ) and I felt satisfied with all the light and life after a well written book of breaking loss and slow mending.