Title: The Banks of Certain Rivers
Author: Jon Harrison
Available from: Amazon
This isn’t the kind of book I usually read. It’s emotional, evocative and poignant and it moves like an old river. In spite of that, I really liked the book. It’s very well written and meets all my criteria for an excellent book.
The storytelling, told from the first-person point of view of Neil Kazenzakis, pulls the reader in. The first-person perspective was a really good choice for this story because the story is about Neil, a life spun out of control in many respects, and his relationships with the people in his life. In my opinion, the depth of emotion the story communicates could only be achieved from Neil’s point of view. I especially liked the insertion of e-mails Neil sends to his wife, knowing she’ll never receive them.
The characters are all well developed and believable, even relatively minor and peripheral ones, and they all play a necessary role in Neil’s life. Especially poignant is Neil’s relationship with Chris, his son, as they get tossed through the turmoil of this story and struggle to maintain balance within themselves and each other. It reinforces the difficulty of being a parent while dealing with one’s own demons and emotions.
The setting of Neil’s wife’s family farm plays an important role. It’s here Neil meets Wendy and her family, and falls in love with her. At every turn, there are things that remind Neil of his youth, falling in love, and his wife. It’s also where his life is falling apart, and he struggles to cope. It’s beautifully incorporated into the story.
This is an excellent book that’s well worth the read.