On the Bridge by Ada Nzoije

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This book starts with a poem, and it’s just intriguing and tantalizing enough to make a reader commit to quickly turning the page and reading on. The fact that it has to do with suicide makes it even more darkly mysterious.

On the Bridge is the story of a normal, seemingly happy  15-year-old named Doug whose life changes forever all because of a flat tire. He and his parents Norman and Jean are riding along in their car over a bridge near their home when the flat occurs. They get out of the car and his father proceeds to fix the tire. He’s very domineering and is trying to teach Doug to become “a man” by insisting he help a bit.

Then, out of nowhere, a man in an expensive red Ferrari drives onto the bridge and parks. It captures the attention of Doug and his mom. The distinguished-looking man gets out, carrying a briefcase. Doug hurries to do his “manly” duties to show his father he’s interested in helping change the tire and then turns his attention to the man, trying to draw him into conversation by complimenting him on his car.  The man smiles wanly…and in an instant, a horrific accident occurs that will shatter Doug’s life forever. To say more would be to give away one of the major plot points. Suffice to say, it sets in motion the rest of the book.

Doug is traumatized by the events and is changed from a rather happy-go-lucky teen into someone who needs to rely on medication to help him cope with what he’s been witness to. He finds solace on a web site aimed at joining together people who’ve witnessed similar events, but even that isn’t enough to help him. Events go from bad to worse as he begins to have ghostly visits that take a sinister turn.

This is a brief book but well-written. Besides Doug’s emotional problems, it’s a story that touches upon the relationship between a man and woman (when the man is clearly controlling and the relationship clearly isn’t happy), the relationship between a child and parents, and a side story about a young woman named Krista who ironically “meets” Doug in an unusual way, because she, too, is battling emotional problems. It isn’t clear right away that it will have paranormal overtones, and actually once that activity begins happening, the story really takes flight.  Unfortunately, it’s over all too soon and that  is its only real flaw. The ending feels abrupt and it seems the story could have gone on much longer, had a different outcome…something keeps it from becoming quite what it might have been, because the author, Ada Nzoije, shows great promise. A note at the end of the book suggests she has another book due out soon and one can hope that her next effort will be even more well-done and fully executed.

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