Review

The Bridge

by Karen Kingsbury

THE BRIDGE is the latest book by bestselling and award-winning author Karen Kingsbury, who proves with this short and sweet Christmas story just why she is America’s favorite inspirational author.

A new and used bookstore in Franklin, Tennessee, The Bridge has been owned and run by Charlie and Donna Barton for more than three decades. Over the years, people have been touched by the numerous books on the shelves --- but not as much as they’ve been touched by Charlie and Donna, who have endeared themselves to hundreds of customers. A giving and thoughtful couple, they’ve given books to people who haven’t had enough cash, suggested stories of hope to individuals in need of encouragement, and attentively listened to those who just wanted to talk. In the process, they’ve warmed more hearts than they will ever know.

"THE BRIDGE is a short and quick read...[that] delivers what it promises: a love story about miracles and second chances. And in today’s day and age, we certainly could use more of both.... [I]f you’re looking for a feel-good, heartwarming read with which to cozy up next to the fireplace this holiday season, it just may be the perfect choice."

Tragically, a flood not only has destroyed the bookstore, but also swept away every single book on the shelf. With no income or inventory, the banks are unwilling to loan the Bartons money to start over. Charlie is distraught. The bookstore was his life. Sitting in the now-empty store, he can’t help recalling his father’s disgusted declaration that he would never amount to anything. Feeling like a failure, with nothing left to show for himself, Charlie wonders if life is even worth living. Driving home on icy roads, he loses control of his vehicle and is rushed to the hospital, where he falls into a coma.

Molly Allen and Ryan Kelly are two of the Bridge’s regular patrons. At least they were several years ago, back when they were best friends in college. The Bridge was Molly and Ryan’s safe haven --- a place where they were inspired by wonderful books, hung out, and shared their hopes and dreams. They even struck up a wonderful friendship with Charlie and Donna Barton, who always thought the two college kids belonged together. But Molly and Ryan insisted they were just friends, while secretly harboring romantic feelings for the other. They even shared one passionate kiss, but Molly’s controlling and meddling father, along with major miscommunication, drove them apart. Molly and Ryan have not had any contact since they parted ways.

Never married, Molly now lives in Portland, the owner of a rescue animal shelter. She assumes that Ryan is married with children, but still, her heart belongs to him. Once a year on Black Friday, she allows herself a trip down memory lane to watch a video that Ryan made of them back in college. Meanwhile, Ryan followed his dream of becoming a country music star and is very successful. But not in love. Not a day has passed that he hasn’t thought of Molly and what they could have had together.

Ryan and Molly get wind of the news that their dear friend and owner of The Bridge is now in a coma, and both rush back to Franklin to Donna’s side. And in a small Tennessee town, in the midst of the holiday season, when miracles are known to abound, there are plenty of miracles to go around.

THE BRIDGE is a short and quick read. Some might wish for more character depth, and others may be disappointed by the predictability or clichéd feel of the story. While it’s true that it’s a simplistic tale, and the relationship between Molly and Ryan --- as well as the reasons for their actions that tore them apart --- could have been more thoroughly explored, this book delivers what it promises: a love story about miracles and second chances. And in today’s day and age, we certainly could use more of both.

Fans may not place THE BRIDGE at the top of the list for their favorite Karen Kingsbury books, but if you’re looking for a feel-good, heartwarming read with which to cozy up next to the fireplace this holiday season, it just may be the perfect choice.

Reviewed by Lynda Lee Schab on November 21, 2012

The Bridge
by Karen Kingsbury