Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Bridge by Lisa Tawn Bergren

  While viewing some literary websites and e-letters last week, I ran across promotions for Lisa T. Bergren's children's books (God Gave Us You) and her teen supernatural series (Waterfall), and for the first time I connected the dots that she was the author of both.  That took me on one of my wandering searches to see what else she had written and where I could obtain those books.
Imagine my delight when one of the most interesting sounding titles was available at the local library.

Published in 2000, The Bridge still reads like a fresh, contemporary novel set in Montana.  The story actually begins in 1961 as an elderly fly fisherman embarks on an early morning attempt to catch fresh trout for his wife of 60 years.  His thoughtful musings are interrupted by a loud crack and he looks up to see the old wooden bridge give way, hurdling a stranger's car into the fast moving river.  Quickly Ernie, with no thought to his own safety, makes his way through the cold water to the open window of the screaming driver.  With only seconds to react, he takes the baby she thrusts to the window, both knowing he will only have time to save one of them.  Ernie collapses on the bank, smelling the sweet grass and river reeds, to hear a powerful voice kindly say, "The child is well . . . And you will be too.  I am proud of you, Ernie.  Now come. Come with me."

From there the book jumps forward to 2000 and the life of Jared Conway, successful New York commodities trader, divorcee, and absentee father.  Readers will quickly figure out that he is the rescued infant, now an adult. When his careful plan to reunite his family
fails, Jared takes his son on a road trip to Montana, hoping the fews days necessary to clean out a cabin he has inherited, but never seen, will give father and son needed time to repair a damaged relationship.
The peaceful Montana setting does it magic and the duo end up spending the whole summer there. soon connecting with a ceramist/sculptor who lives nearby. While Eden has a strong faith, she carries scars which keep her both emotionally and physically sheltered in her remote cabin.  Yet from the start she is intrigued by the father and son.  Bergren has done more than write a simple love story.  This book is about bridges or transformations.  Conversations about God and faith are genuine to the characters and necessary to the story. 

This story is not dotted with minor characters, places, or events just to fill pages -- everything in the narrative advances either Jared's or Eden's story.  There areno contrived misunderstandings to
"thicken" the romantic plot.  I don't know if Bergren's writing is this strong in her historical novels, but I intend to give one a try.  Some of her books are in the fantasy (supernatural, time travel/historical) genre, which I am not usually drawn to, but after reading this book I suspect that she could weave a suspenseful, meaningful story.

Reading The Bridge was an uplifting way to spend an afternoon, and I was delighted that I chose this book as my next read, especially since last night I finally finished a book I had struggled with all week.
This book will remain nameless, but it was a "popular" contemporary fiction by a national best selling author that was on several recommended lists.  My reaction when I finished last book - "Glad I'm done with that book.  Why did I ever read it?  Do people actually act like that?" Seldom do I finish a book that I don't like even one of the character!! What a difference my reaction was for The Bridge, when I immediately decided to write my blog review.  Even now, I have the characters in my mind, wishing they were real people about to start more meaningful lives together.

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