Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Review: The Last Bridge by Teri Coyne
Here is a summary of The Last Bridge from the Random House, Inc. website:
For ten years, Alexandra “Cat” Rucker has been on the run from her past. With an endless supply of bourbon and a series of meaningless jobs, Cat is struggling to forget her Ohio hometown and the rural farmhouse she once called home. But a sudden call from an old neighbor forces Cat to return to the home and family she never intended to see again. It seems that Cat’s mother is dead.
What Cat finds at the old farmhouse is disturbing and confusing: a suicide note, written on lilac stationery and neatly sealed in a ziplock bag, that reads: Cat, He isn’t who you think he is. Mom xxxooo
One note, ten words–one for every year she has been gone–completely turns Cat’s world upside down. Seeking to unravel the mystery of her mother’s death, Cat must confront her past to discover who “he” might be: her tyrannical, abusive father, now in a coma after suffering a stroke? Her brother, Jared, named after her mother’s true love (who is also her father’s best friend)? The town coroner, Andrew Reilly, who seems to have known Cat’s mother long before she landed on a slab in his morgue? Or Addison Watkins, Cat’s first and only love?
The closer Cat gets to the truth, the harder it is for her to repress the memory and the impact of the events that sent her away so many years ago.
Taut, gripping, and edgy, The Last Bridge is an intense novel of family secrets, darkest impulses, and deep-seated love. Teri Coyne has created a stunning tapestry of pain and passion where past and present are seamlessly interwoven to tell a story that sears and warms in equal measure.
This was a very powerful book that really dealt with what the negative effects of abuse can be when the victim just keeps trying to run away from the reality of what happened. Although this was a difficult story to read at times, I found that I couldn't put this book down. I devoured the pages in just a couple of sittings, which is a very rare occurrence for me. I was mesmerized from the first line of the book that began like this on page 3:
Two days after my father had a massive stroke my mother shot herself in the head.
So the story begins with Cat returning to the family home after her mother's death. Cat hates to be in her hometown, let alone the family home where she was the recipient of extensive physical abusive from her father, that the only way she can manage to stay there is by drinking herself into oblivion. She would drink until all emotional feelings were dead to her.
This is one of those stories that the author decides to give us snippets of Cat's life by changing the timeline from past to present throughout the book. This method of writing definitely enhanced this story. I won't go into the details of the abuse but it did escalate violently throughout the novel. When Cat did try to tell an authoritive figure what was happening to her, she just received a worse punishment when she got home.
Although her father was abusive to her mother, Cat seemed to be the recipient of most of his violent outbursts. I guess because everyone in her life seemed to ignore what happened to her as a child, she thought it would be ok to just not deal with it herself. This is how Cat let alcoholism take over her entire life. This was very realistic to me as I watched Cat deal with her raw emotions in this way.
When Cat is reunited with her brother and sister she thinks that they have it all together. Little does she know that they are both dealing with their own demons, some from current events, and some from the guilt of not helping Cat all those years ago when they had the chance. I loved how this story ends because it wasn't picture perfect. Cat finds that it is a daily struggle to keep her alcoholism under control, but she has found a reason to try to make it work.
This is probably one of my favorite books that I have read this summer and I want to give a special Thank You to Kaitlin from Random House for providing me with this review copy. I know that some of you are very sensitive when it comes to reading about child abuse, so this may not be the right book for you. As difficult as the journey of this book was, I thought it was very well written. This is Teri Coyne's first novel and I find it fascinating that she is also a stand up comedian! You can check out her website here.
My Rating: 4/5
You can view another insightful review of The Last Bridge over at Books and Cooks.