by Kevin Myers
I had never heard of Kevin Myers until I came across this little gem amongst a pile of books at a local garden centre – a fate that this book does not deserve!
From the very first line to its powerful and emotional ending, Banks of Green Willow is a surprising mix of humour, compassion and the brutal reality of civil war.
At the heart of the book is the story of two lovers, separated too soon. After a whirlwind weekend in 1972, teenager Gina Cambell returns to her home in Louisiana, leaving Stefan in Ireland. Even as she boards the plane, Gina knows she is making a mistake.
We all have those moments in our lives when we are faced with making decisions that could, and often do, change our lives forever. Whether the decisions we make are the right ones or not, we have to learn to live with them. Most of the time we don’t even realise that we have turned down a new path. For Gina and Stefan, her leaving Ireland for the USA was just such a moment, and one that changed her life forever.
Gina builds a comfortable life for herself, but never forgets the enigmatic Irishman with Baltic heritage who changed her life forever during that unforgettable weekend.
The action of the book moves between Ireland, Louisiana and the horrors of the Bosnian war, spanning 30 years.
Whilst the story of Gina and Stefan is not original, and the twists in the plot not unexpected, the flash-forwards to evens in Bosnia are gruesome and compelling. As the central character, Gina Cambell faces a number of challenges that test her emotional strength. From a loveless marriage to the horrors of separation and illness, she fights to maintain her identity and the love of those she cares about.
I found Banks of Green Willow a wonderfully moving book.