Review: The River Leith– by Leta Blake

the-river-leithOther Reviewers: Goodreads

Disclaimer:  This book was given to me by the author for an honest review.  My opinions are my own.

I have read and reviewed a previous book by Leta Blake, Training Season.  I remember liking that book and reviewing it well despite some other reviewers not supporting the ending or relationship.  I think that is one of Leta’s strong points actually, making us think and creating characters that are not black and white and sometimes things do not have Disney endings all the time.

Something happens within this story that makes me question the rating, which has nothing to do with the quality of writing.  I will get to it naturally within this review, but I had some serious problems with one of the main character’s actions.

Basic Plot:

Leith is an amateur boxer who was hurt in the ring, forgetting the last 3 years of his life.  This means he has forgotten his father’s death and the fact that he was in love with a man, Zach.  Can Leith recover his memory and move forward with his relationship with Zach?  Or is his future gone for good?

 

Leith Wenz:

Leith is my man.  I loved this character.  He portrays the right amount of angst, fear, anger, pain, and hope that we would expect to experience in his situation.  Dr. Thakur (his psychologist) tells a story about a monsoon water troubled river and some youths trying to encourage each other to cross:

Go first, Leith thought.  Sometimes he felt torn into different people.  One who wanted to hold back and wait — to not push anything because the answers were surely coming.  Another who wanted to tell the world to go fuck itself because he was starting a new life without any of the old hang-ups to deal with.

In Leith’s position, I would be torn, to try to discover my past or just forget it and move to create a new life.

Zachariah Stephens:

We only see Zach’s perspective through his video-blogs, before and after the accident.  I like how Blake handled his perspective, we get to see how the couple was before the accident, through the video (actual Leith) as well as through Zach’s observations.  I enjoy how Leith described Zach:

There was something about Zach’s busyness that made Leith feel safe, as though simply by moving in the world Zach took charge of it, and made everything somehow easier.

This is how all of our other halves, should be, right?  Just by being there they make your life better, safer, even if it is just emotional and not a big hulking boxer.

****Skip this section now and go to the Theme Summary if you do not want the spoiler****

 

 

Early on in this book, Zach cheats on Leith, while Leith is in the hospital.  I do not have a problem if say, Leith was there for months and all hope had been lost, but it had only been a couple of weeks and he was on the mend.  If you truly love your partner, you do not have sex with someone else when you feel frightened and sad.  For this reason, I have no respect for Zach and I think that Leith could do so much better.  I would not have been able to have easily forgiven the situation.

But, this brings me to a point, do we punish the author for building a story with faulty, yet compelling characters?  There are tons of men and women who would have done the same thing in this situation or similar ones.  So I feel that it was realistic, even if it was not something in which I could relate.  It takes courage to write a main character with this type of damaging actions.

 

 

Theme Summary:

Everything about this novel deals with the past.  Our memories of the past, how we remember what happened, and how it affects us when we lose our memories of those things.  The author does an excellent job of using our main character’s name as a guide, “Lethe” was a mythical Greek river in which if you drank it you forgot.  Makes sense here, huh?

There are several key words and themes throughout the book, one having to do with Leith’s past and a golden-crowned kinglet.  I do not want to spoil it, but it has deep meaning to Leith and it is a source of early emotional pain.

Our Dr. Thakur is our Greek chorus, and he often speaks the theme, giving us hints along the way.  He speaks of Krishna:

‘Krishna told us that he was the taste of pure water, the sound of every voice and noise, the radiance of the sun and moon, and the courage of human beings.’

We are told that Leith is lost, he has no recent memories of his friends, family, and recent events.  He is a lone cow in a field of loneliness.  He needs a Krishna, and he thinks he has found that in Zach.  But first he must find himself, the kinglet.

Strong Points:

One of the best things about Blake is her writing.  From the first page, I was hooked, wanting to know about this Leith, what happened to make him lose his memory and what was he going to do about.  Blake made me feel how Leith felt and I was humbled on how graceful he handled it compared to how I would have.  The author brings home the theme skillfully toward the end:

Sometimes it took divine courage to let go and end up in an ocean of the unknown.

There are times when “shit happens,” and we can not change the past, we can only move forward.  This book is a good lesson on how to try to pick up after a disaster and create a new life out of the ashes.

What could be better?

There is nothing really to improve, other than my complaint regarding Zach.  It was certainly possible to make him a faulty character without having that particular fault.  I can only imagine that Blake had a purpose here and not just a salacious angst moment.

Conclusions:

I read this book in one sitting (after watching World War Z, wow, what a movie!).  It was compelling and a good read.  I think that you can get something meaningful out of this book, that your problems, are really not that bad.  And if they are, all you can do is collect yourself and move forward.  Sometimes the past is just the past; you certainly can’t change it.

It has been awhile since I have read a book that I WANTED to write a review, so this read was a pleasure.

Bea

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