Bridge to Haven
Renowned fiction author Francine Rivers is well known for composing storylines so compelling that they keep readers riveted to one spot until the final page is turned. BRIDGE TO HAVEN is just such a story. From the opening scene set in 1936, when Pastor Ezekiel Freeman begins his daily morning prayer vigil through town, praying for everyone and everything that the Lord brings to his mind, Rivers’s new novel meets all expectations.
Who would have guessed that on this particular chilly fall morning, Pastor Zeke’s faithful routine to cover his flock and this town with prayer would be a life-changing and life-saving one? Just when he should be turning toward home, Zeke feels an urgent compulsion to go by the bridge at Riverfront Park. Trying to dismiss the inner sense that someone is in trouble, he relents and heads toward the bridge. Upon arrival, he hears a mewling cry and starts to investigate. What he finds astounds him --- a newborn baby girl crying for all she is worth. Quickly tucking her into the folds of his jacket to warm her, Zeke breathes into her face and tells her to scream as loud as she wants and to hold onto life.
"Rivers’s work is always dramatic and holds an underlying thread of redemption throughout. BRIDGE TO HAVEN is replete with this theme of unconditional love meets temptation, trial and failure."
In a moment of weakness, Zeke allows his wife Marianne to talk him into keeping the baby, despite the fact that her heart is damaged by childhood rheumatic fever, and the birth of their only son Joshua has put an even further strain on her. Five years pass by swiftly and Marianne’s strength continues to wane. When she dies, Zeke is left with nine-year-old Joshua and five-year-old Abra to care for. In his grief and desperation, he allows a fellow church couple to adopt Abra as their own and as a sister to their little girl, Penny. But Abra doesn't understand why her father would give her up to another family. She longs for her mother who has died, and now for her father who only visits for brief spaces of time.
In an effort to help Abra adjust, her adoptive parents change churches so she can forget her father and Joshua. Instead, Abra grows up angry and confused, desperate to be loved for herself. As she grows into a real beauty, Abra and her sister compete for attention with the local boys, but when Dylan arrives from out of town, he sways Abra to run away with him.
While Abra succumbs to Dylan’s influence, as well as that of his gossip columnist mother, she attends all the Hollywood parties and finds herself gaining the attention of an agent, Franklin Moss, who rescues her from Dylan only to be coerced into signing a contract with him. Abra is transformed into a Hollywood film star under Franklin’s obsessive care, and though she finally gets the attention she has always craved, Abra soon realizes the price is too high and finds herself longing for what she once had.
Rivers’s work is always dramatic and holds an underlying thread of redemption throughout. BRIDGE TO HAVEN is replete with this theme of unconditional love meets temptation, trial and failure. The story speaks volumes about the difficulties of life and how faith, hope and love can indeed win out.
Reviewed by Michele Howe on April 24, 2014