Goodreads ~ 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.
Heartbreaking, poignant, and written with devastating humor and warmth, The Banks of Certain Rivers is a shattering story of memory, loss, and just how far a man will go to show the people closest to him the meaning of love.
Neil, his wife, Wendy, and their son, Chris, were on vacation when tragedy strikes ... Wendy gets caught at the bottom of a pool. About five years later, Wendy is in long term care, not responsive. Carol, Wendy's mother, isn't well and lives next door to Neil and Chris ... Neil oversees her care with nurses. Neil has had a secret relationship with one of those nurses, Lauren, for the last two years. When Lauren discovers she is pregnant, Neil knows he has to tell his son what's going on but he is afraid Chris will feel betrayed because the relationship has been going on as long as it has.
In the meantime, a video of Neil breaking up a fight at the school where he is a teacher is loaded onto You Tube. It looks like Neil was beating up the kid, apparently because the kid had recently uploaded naked pictures of his ex-girlfriend. As Neil fights to keep his job, he is also dealing with his guilt to Wendy over his relationship with Lauren, Chris' feelings of betrayal and the pressure of perhaps having to sell his in-laws' land to cover the bills.
This is the first novel I've read by this author and I enjoyed it. I look forward to reading others by this author.
The story is told in first person in Neil's voice. I found it a bit confusing in the beginning but it got better once I caught onto the rhythm ... while the story is happening in present day, there are also Neil's reminisces about the past and his present day emails to his Wendy (to an account he opened for her as a diary for his thoughts).
It posed an interesting scenario ... if your spouse was going to be in a
vegetative state for the rest of their life, does that mean that your
life also ends? It would be a hard decision but eventually, like Neil,
you have to move on with your life. Neil not only ensured that Wendy
was well taken care off, he also made sure that his mother-in-law had
the best care and that the land that was in Wendy's family wasn't sold
off for development.
I think the writing could have been tighter ... I found it rambled a bit a times.
As a head's up, the language and actions are mature at times.
I received a copy of this book at no charge in exchange for my honest review.