The Bridge from Me to You
Point, July 2014
Lauren has had a rough life. After an incident involving her mother and younger brother, she is sent to live with her aunt and uncle in a small town in Oregon, where she meets Colby. Colby is the wide-reciever and one of the team’s (and town’s) celebrities. And in this town, football is everything to everybody. Except Colby.
Themes of family, acceptance, friendship, and following your heart are the biggest tackles in the narrative. Lauren is trying to find acceptance in an absent mother while not realizing she’s already a part of another family. Colby is forced to see what friendship means to him when his best friend is involved in a life-changing accident. And both main characters have to follow their heart, both in their relationship and in their individual lives. Colby faces this challenge more than Lauren, as he is pressured by his dad (and sometimes the whole town) to make football his present and future when all he wants is to be himself.
Lisa Schroeder presents this story as a verse novel, where poetry and prose coincide with each other. Lauren’s point of view is always in poetry format, except when she’s talking to her psychiatrist. I assume that the chapters that are presented as poetry are from her journal, which you find out Lauren is supposed be writing in. Colby’s point of view is presented as first-person prose, and I found myself wondering how different it would have been if their views had been switched, and it had been Colby’s voice seen as poetry and Lauren’s as prose? Would it had made Colby seem less masculine? Or made him more relatable as a human being?
While I thought it was beautifully written and there were certain scenes that made me want to curl into a ball and cry, Lauren and Colby’s relationship didn’t feel as real as I hoped, and I felt they had more of a platonic relationship than romantic. However, Schroeder does an excellent job in portraying realistic views of teenagers in a small town (being from a small town myself). There’s the wanting of a life outside the city limits, the little excitement of things to do, and how a community will rally together for one of its own. Even though some characters and their scenes felt cliche, the realism of the book made the town, and the narrative as a whole relatable. Schroeder makes the story feel like a work of non-fiction, even though it isn’t.
Reviewed by Kristina Akers, September 2014.
The Sun Is God
Seventh Street Books, September 2014
Will Prior, a former British military police officer, only thinks he’s in for a life of peace in Deutsch Neu Guinea. It is 1906. Will, booted out of the British service wants to be left alone with his blighted rubber plantation and his servant girl, Siwa. But then his friend, German policeman Klaus Kessler, knowing Will’s background in the military police asks him to help find a killer when an autopsy reveals a cult member in a nudist colony has been poisoned.
What a cast of characters! From the least to the lead, fully fleshed and fully intriguing. The setting, a tropical forested island, is fascinating and very real. Made me hot and sweaty—and not in a comfortable way—just to read about it. Will finds sunburn a real problem. Near starvation for nudists required to dine only upon coconuts and bananas is a twist. As is the fact all of them take good old Bayer produced heroin for their health’s sake along with every meal. Will has a job ahead of him in discovering who, in this wacky group, is also a murderer.
Best line in the book: Evans hadn’t commented on his (Will’s) Plimsolls, which were squeaking now like poisoned rats in a granary. Very graphic and evocative.
Plimsolls, in case you don’t know, are a type of athletic shoe with a rubber sole and canvas top developed in the 1830s.
I wouldn’t call this historical mystery fast-paced, but it is a fascinating look at a lesser-known time and part of the world. We’re told it’s based on a true story.
Reviewed by Carol Crigger, October 2014.
Author of Three Seconds to Thunder.