By looking at the cover of Teri Coyne's novel, nothing is given away. There is no way to know that within the pages of this debut novel is an intense, emotional story of a woman tortured by her past. Once you read this book, you can look again at the cover and even the simplicity of it is understood.
THE LAST BRIDGE is the story of Alexandra "Cat" Rucker: abused, alcoholic, damaged. After being gone from her Ohio family home for ten years, she is forced to return when her mother commits a carefully planned suicide hours after her father suffers a critical stroke. For ten years Cat has been living with demons she isn't strong enough to face. Her sad life is a mix of booze, nightmares and self disgust.
As a child, Cat suffered at the hands of her father and swore that as soon as she made it through high school she would leave and never come back. She hated her father and kept all of the hurt and abuse inside. The plans she made to leave did happen, but not quite the way she thought. Her last night with her family turned out to be something ugly and traumatic with heartbreaking and frightening consequences that she has carried around with her ever since. Now she's back at her family home with her brother and sister, whom she's had no contact with and feeling very out of place. She tries to deal with her mother's suicide and her father's declining health at the same time that old family secrets are being revealed. Cat also has secrets of her own and questions that were left unanswered long ago after that last night on the bridge.
I don't want to give too much away but I will say that Cat's story is a difficult one to read. Teri Coyne's writing is bold, intense and holds nothing back. This is not a book for the faint at heart. From the beginning, Cat's self-destructive behavior and debilitating alcoholism is front and center. The story is told from her perspective both in present time and in flashbacks to her teenage years in alternating chapters.
Once I started reading THE LAST BRIDGE I found it very hard to put down. I wanted to keep going to see what would happen next. It is a dark and troubling story told in a precise manner. It's not filled with a lot of description and airy details. Teri Coyne paints a realistic picture of Cat's life as a lost soul. For some, it might be too dark, but I find myself drawn to these types of novels and appreciate the poignancy in them. As a debut novel this one is a winner in my opinion. At first, I didn't think I was going to like Cat. I couldn't relate to her alcoholism and her attitude, but the more I got to know her the more I liked her.
THE LAST BRIDGE is an easy read and with only 240 pages, many could finish it in one sitting. It has so many facets that make it truly engrossing: family; loss; sacrifice and even deep love. For all of those reasons, I would recommend it for your book club as well. Visit Teri Coyne's website to learn more about her. To read an excerpt from the book click here. The release date for this dramatic novel is July 28, 2009.
Author: Teri Coyne
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Published: July 28, 2009
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars