Title: Great Falls
Author: Steve Watkins
Publication Date: April 26, 2016
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Shane has always worshiped his big brother, Jeremy. But Jeremy hasn’t been the same since he returned home from three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. The happy-go-lucky brother that Shane once knew has been replaced by a surly drunk who carries his loaded 9mm with him wherever he goes and is living in their parents’ basement because he can’t face going home to his wife and two little kids.
When Jeremy shows up after one of Shane’s football games and offers to take him up to the family cabin for the weekend, Shane goes along—in part to get away from a humiliation on the field and in part to keep an eye on Jeremy, who’s gone AWOL from his job at Quantico and seems more unstable than ever. But as the camping trip turns into a days-long canoe trip down the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers, Shane realizes he’s in way over his head. Can he persuade Jeremy to go back home and get the help he needs before it’s too late?
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.
After humiliating himself in front of his entire school, Shane decides to embark on a camping trip with his older brother Jeremy. Before Shane realizes, they are in possession of a canoe and are well on their way down the Shenandoah River and towards the Potomac River. Jeremy, a veteran, is running away from his job, his family, and all the other responsibilities he has back home. While this trip was a way to escape his embarrassment, Shane realizes he needs to stick with Jeremy. If Shane isn’t there for Jeremy, who knows what Jeremy will do…
There were so many instances with Jeremy that frustrated me so much. Maybe I am being a bit harsh, but I seldom felt sorry for Jeremy. I cannot fathom the horrible situations and things he went through, but I feel that some of his actions had absolutely no excuse. And then there is Shane. I feel a bit harsh again, but Shane also frustrated me to no end. Shane is a good kid. He wants to help his brother so badly, but is afraid to confront Jeremy. Shane does become better and learns to ask the questions he was once afraid to ask. However, those moments when Shane did not a backbone were very frustrating.
I do not know what the problem was, but I could not connect with these characters in the slightest. I have read books about veterans before and I have thoroughly enjoyed them. Perhaps it was my timing; I can be a mood reader at times. I honestly wanted to love this book, as other readers before me have. I suppose this book just wasn’t my cup of tea.
2 out of 5 stars
Meet The Author
Steve is also author of a short story collection, My Chaos Theory (2006, Southern Methodist University Press), which was a finalist for the Paterson Fiction Prize, and an Honorable Mention for the Library of Virginia Fiction Award. He also wrote the award-winning non-fiction book The Black O: Racism and Redemption in an American Corporate Empire, published in 1997 by the University of Georgia Press, which tells the story of the largest employment discrimination class action lawsuit in U.S. history. His fiction, poetry, and non-fiction articles have appeared in numerous publications, including The Nation, Poets & Writers, Mississippi Review, 100 Percent Pure Florida Fiction, North American Review, and The Pushcart Prize Anthology.
A graduate of Florida State University, Steve teaches journalism, creative writing, and Vietnam War literature at the University of Mary Washington. He also teaches Ashtanga yoga, and works as an investigator and advocate for abused and neglected children through the child advocacy organization CASA. He lives in Fredericksburg, Virginia with his wife Janet, and four daughters–Maggie, Eva, Claire, and Lili. Steve and Janet are co-directors of the religious education program at the Fredericksburg Unitarian Universalist Church.