Cross Currents by John Shors
Published by NAL Trade, an imprint of Penguin
Review copy provided by the author
Lek and Sarai, a married couple who make their living by owning a small resort on Thailand’s Ko Phi Phi island, are happy to provide their new American friend Patch with room and board in exchange for his help around the resort. But Patch has a secret – he’s running from the law – and when his brother Ryan arrives, along with Ryan’s girlfriend Brooke, Lek realizes that Patch’s presence in his life puts his family at risk. While Ryan attempts to convince Patch to come back to the states and confess to his crime, Brooke questions her love for Ryan as she begins to develop feelings for his brother.
I’ve been meaning to read a John Shors novel for what feels like forever, and I’m so glad that I finally sat down with Cross Currents. There were so many things that I really enjoyed about this book, and now I can see why so many bloggers have raved about Shors’ work!
What I loved most about this novel was the way Shors crafted the relationships between the characters. The importance of family was probably the most glaring theme throughout the novel and there were several different family dynamics going on here. There was Lek and Sarai with their three children, Patch and Ryan and all the history between them, and Brooke and Ryan were their own little family as well. I love reading about families with long and complicated histories, with intricacies that are not obvious upon first glance, and Shors definitely gave that to me with these characters. Lek and Sarai were the most adorable, solid couple – they loved and supported each other through everything, while at the same time they had their disagreements too. Ryan and Patch, while brothers, were extremely different people and although their long history pulled them together their huge differences of opinion pulled them apart at times. So it was interesting to see how they were able to navigate one another throughout the book. And it certainly didn’t make their fractured relationship any easier when Brooke got involved.
I have to say, though, that relationships between characters could not possibly be engaging if the characters themselves are not written well – so of course Shors wrote compelling, interesting characters here who I truly wanted to get to know. I genuinely liked each of them – it was clear to me that each individual had good points and bad, and their failures and setbacks were compensated by the fact that they were all good people with good intentions. Even Ryan, who I saw as a sort of jerk most of the time, clearly was just trying to do the right thing for his brother.
As you have probably already guessed, based on the setting of the book, the plot culminates with the tsunami of 2004 that ravaged Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, and of course Thailand. These scenes brought tears to my eyes as I watched the characters I’d fallen in love with battle the wall of water that surrounded them. Although it was difficult to read about this, Shors managed to close the book on a hopeful note and I was left feeling satisfied with how he ended things.
Clearly, I loved Cross Currents and would highly recommend the novel. I definitely plan to read more of John Shors’ work in the near future!