If a book makes me cry on page 22, it’s probably going to be a pretty good read.
Marybeth Whalen’s newest release, The Bridge Tender (Zondervan, 2014), did just that.
Set between 2001 and 2007, this contemporary novel follows parts of Emily Shaw’s story. Emily had a beautiful marriage with her husband, Ryan, but became a widow after too few years. At the funeral, she is unexpectedly presented with means to a promise Ryan made her, and she travels to Sunset Beach, North Carolina (their honeymoon location) to fulfill that promise. Along the way, she encounters interesting people, each with their own story of sadness in their past, yet all are forging ahead. Emily struggles with moving on from her brokenness to claim the future God still has for her.
The author creates realistic and relatable characters. Deep and changing emotions carry much of the plot in this story, in very understandable ways. Emily’s ways of grieving seem so realistic (without feeling hokey), down to her efforts to “keep it together,” her private bouts of sobbing, and her imagined conversations with her husband. The timeline within the story also seemed credible. Each of the side characters helped Emily evolve, but were also developed well that I cared about each one.
This book tackles the obvious themes of loss, broken hearts, and love, but also delves into what growth really means and how following God doesn’t mean always mean a “perfect” life. The book included several truths of faith in fairly natural ways (though there is one misinterpreted thought the main character had that I wanted the author to clarify in later chapters). Emily’s questions about her own faith and dealing with this grief were so reasonable, allowing the reader to both understand her and consider the situation through his or her own faith perspective. I was continually struck by how the author described Emily’s desires to run from trouble and her growth in dealing with hardships.
Marketed as a “beach read” because of the setting and the romantic plotline, I’d recommend this read even more for the underlying issues all of us can relate to, beyond having a significant other. The Bridge Tender is a beautifully told story.
How have you clung to hope in the midst aftermath of struggles?
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher and BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own. I was not compensated in any other way.
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