Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Banks of Certain Rivers by Jon Harrison + a Giveaway

Good morning, everyone! I had to bring this post back in light of the author's new edition and publishing deal. An author whose work I very much enjoy and whose opinion on books I very much respect, recommended Harrison's self-published book last year in her efforts to help spread the word. Since then, Harrison's book has been acquired by Lake Union Publishing and a brand spanking new edition hit shelves yesterday. So for all of you new readers, heads up - you're going to want to check this one out! (Psst, I get to offer up a copy for giveaway - read through to the bottom to enter!)

Neil Kazenzakis doesn't exactly have it easy: he's a high school teacher with a teenage son he's been raising on his own since his wife was hospitalized a few years ago. Neil and his son, Chris, are doing their best. Chris does well in school and is planning to start college in a year. But Neil has been in a relationship for the past two years, something he's been careful to keep from his son out of fear of how he will react. Just when he's ready to finally come clean, Neil is accused of beating up a student. A scandalizing YouTube video is all the proof most people need of the event, but Neil stands by his side of the story. The video's account isn't what really happened. Suspended while the event is investigated, Neil's world is further shaken by the threat of losing his job and the insurance that pays for his wife's long term care.

While the story is playing out, there are emails addressed to Neil's wife interspersed throughout the story. It's his journal of sorts and gives readers further insight into the various things Neil struggles with. His friend Alan serves as a good sounding board for some of these issues, but Neil spends a lot of time hiding things from those around him - not really for his own sake but to protect the people he loves from the things he thinks might hurt them. Neil puts up a good front, but it wears on him and as the story progresses he starts to crack.

Neil reminisces about his life, his marriage, his family, and his friends throughout the story as well. It's worked into the narrative in a way that it doesn't at all hinder the flow of the story, which has a great pacing. Harrison's prose is very smooth, the kind of story that sweeps you along so that you don't even notice how much time has passed when you next look up from the page.

Harrison's characters and their relationships are the driving force of this story. Without such fantastic characterization, the story would still have been a good story but the characters make it more relatable and human.

Rating: 4.5/5

For more on Jon and his work you can check out the book's official website here. You can also like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

As promised, I do have a copy to give away. To enter simply fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, October 6. Open US only - no PO boxes please.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


KAS said...

Becky, you keep offering such powerhouse giveaways! What bounty for readers! This author's literary reputation precedes my reading of this feature today. However, I had no idea this (or other) works were so character driven. I am eager to read this and/or other examples of his work. Your high recommendation of course heightens my expectations that an exploration of Harrison's work would be well worth my while. Thank you, and cheers -- Kara S

Anita Yancey said...

It sounds like a very interesting and touching novel. I would enjoy reading it. Thanks for having the giveaway.

traveler said...

Thanks for this captivating and wonderful giveaway.Your great review caught my interest. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

cyn209 said...

an 'add' to my Wish List!!!
thank you for the giveaway!!