When Neil Kazenzakis and his wife Wendy are on a trip with their son Chris, the unthinkable happens.
Neil is listening to a speaker at a conference, while his wife and son are enjoying the pool in the hotel. A helicopter medi-vac hovers overhead, and soon someone is airlifted away. In the next few moments, Neil is summoned and learns that his wife was involved in a near-drowning.
When the story picks up a few years later, we see the aftermath of Neil’s life: his son is ready to finish high school and is planning for college; and his wife is in a vegetative state in a long term facility.
The story is narrated in Neil’s first person voice, and we learn through flashbacks and memories about his journey forward, replete with all the pain of the loss and the continual reminders of what was and what will never be.
Living in Port Manitou, Michigan, on the farmland owned jointly with Wendy’s widowed mother Carol Olsson, Neil has fashioned a kind of normalcy for himself and son Christopher. He teaches science at the local high school and coaches the girls’ track team. He has started a relationship with Lauren, the hospice nurse who works with Carol. But the two of them are keeping their relationship a secret until just the right time for Neil to tell his son.
But unfortunately, life doesn’t hold back its punches for just the right moment, and soon Neil is engulfed in a horrifying scandal regarding an event at his school…and he could lose everything he loves. Again.
The Banks of Certain Rivers is a captivating story that leads the reader through all of the swirling rivers of life that can engulf a person, much like the dangers of the river that flows through the property. Will Neil manage to work his way through the allegations against him? Will his relationship with Lauren and with his son survive the onslaught that descends upon them?
Finding out kept me rapidly turning pages until the satisfying conclusion. I loved the characters and the author’s ability to engage me and draw me right into the midst of the emotional morass that swirled about them all until the very end. Five stars.