Confident, clearsighted and poignant.

READ REVIEW

THE BANKS OF CERTAIN RIVERS

Harrison’s moving novel follows an introspective teacher and coach.

On the surface, high school science teacher and cross-country running coach Neil Kazenzakis has recovered well from the tragic accident that happened years ago and left his wife in a vegetative state and him to raise their now-teenage son. But high school politics, parenting and caring for his ailing mother-in-law, who lives next door, (not to mention the burden of making sure his two-year relationship with his mother-in-law’s nurse remains a secret) all take their toll on his fragile psychological equilibrium. Harrison’s debut is a slow, thoughtful work driven by Neil’s interactions with others: his students; co-workers; neighbors; his girlfriend, Lauren, who’s starting to lose patience with their state of romantic limbo; and, especially, his son, Chris. Though these circumstances are, in their own right, rife with tension, the novel is a bit exposition-heavy, and it’s well into the story before the plot’s central conflicts—an accusation of inappropriate conduct at school paired with a new and sudden pressure to reveal his relationship with Lauren—are set into motion. That said, Harrison’s characters are compelling, and his prose is lucid; the emails Neil begins sending to a Gmail account he created in his wife’s name, a device Harrison employs throughout, are affecting and often tender. Neil’s vividly detailed life is sure to appeal to fans of emotionally involving fiction, while more cynical readers might be skeptical of Neil’s relentlessly moral conscience and the somewhat one-note representation of Chris’ adolescent angst. Harrison’s characters frequently suffer misfortune and, occasionally, the consequences of their own questionable decisions, but he transforms a story that could easily be somber into a hopeful one, recognizing both the difficulty and importance of letting go and moving on.

Confident, clearsighted and poignant.

Pub Date: March 19, 2013

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 331

Publisher: Amazon Digital Services

Review Posted Online: July 9, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE GLASS HOTEL

A financier's Ponzi scheme unravels to disastrous effect, revealing the unexpected connections among a cast of disparate characters.

How did Vincent Smith fall overboard from a container ship near the coast of Mauritania, fathoms away from her former life as Jonathan Alkaitis' pretend trophy wife? In this long-anticipated follow-up to Station Eleven (2014), Mandel uses Vincent's disappearance to pick through the wreckage of Alkaitis' fraudulent investment scheme, which ripples through hundreds of lives. There's Paul, Vincent's half brother, a composer and addict in recovery; Olivia, an octogenarian painter who invested her retirement savings in Alkaitis' funds; Leon, a former consultant for a shipping company; and a chorus of office workers who enabled Alkaitis and are terrified of facing the consequences. Slowly, Mandel reveals how her characters struggle to align their stations in life with their visions for what they could be. For Vincent, the promise of transformation comes when she's offered a stint with Alkaitis in "the kingdom of money." Here, the rules of reality are different and time expands, allowing her to pursue video art others find pointless. For Alkaitis, reality itself is too much to bear. In his jail cell, he is confronted by the ghosts of his victims and escapes into "the counterlife," a soothing alternate reality in which he avoided punishment. It's in these dreamy sections that Mandel's ideas about guilt and responsibility, wealth and comfort, the real and the imagined, begin to cohere. At its heart, this is a ghost story in which every boundary is blurred, from the moral to the physical. How far will Alkaitis go to deny responsibility for his actions? And how quickly will his wealth corrupt the ambitions of those in proximity to it? In luminous prose, Mandel shows how easy it is to become caught in a web of unintended consequences and how disastrous it can be when such fragile bonds shatter under pressure.

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-52114-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A heartwarming portrait of a broken heart finding a little healing magic.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

IN FIVE YEARS

After acing a job interview and accepting a marriage proposal, Dannie Kohan has had the perfect day. That is, until she awakens to find herself five years in the future with a completely different man.

Just one hour in that alternate reality shakes Dannie to her core. After all, highly ambitious Dannie and her boyfriend, David, have plotted out their lives in minute detail, and the sexy man in her dream—was it a dream?—is most certainly not in the script. Serle (The Dinner List, 2018) deftly spins these magical threads into Dannie’s perfectly structured life, leaving not only Dannie, but also the reader wondering whether Dannie time traveled or hallucinated. Her best friend, Bella, would delight in the story given that she thinks Dannie is much too straight-laced, and some spicy dreaming might push Dannie to find someone more passionate than David. Unfortunately, glamorous Bella is in Europe with her latest lover. Ever pragmatic, Dannie consults her therapist, who almost concurs that it was likely a dream, and throws herself into her work. Pleased to have landed the job at a prestigious law firm, Dannie easily loses her worries in litigation. Soon four and a half years have passed with no wedding date set, and Bella is back in the U.S. with a new man in her life. A man who turns out to be literally the man of Dannie’s dream. The sheer fact of Aaron Gregory’s existence forces Dannie to reevaluate her trust in the laws of physics as well as her decision to marry David, a decision that seems less believable with each passing day. And as the architecture of Dannie’s overplanned life disintegrates, Serle twists and twines the remnants of her dream into a surprising future.

A heartwarming portrait of a broken heart finding a little healing magic.

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3744-1

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more