Friday, April 15, 2011

Bridge to a Distant Star by Carolyn Williford

Fair warning to you, my faithful readers: I'm about to be really, really mean to you. I received an advanced copy of this one, and it doesn't release until June 1, 2011--so if you can't stand knowing and not having, feel free to skip this one. BUT, be warned---it's a doozy of a story!

Honestly, I've never heard of Carolyn Williford, nor had I heard about her new novel, "Bridge to a Distant Star". This was a very pleasant surprise in my mailbox early this week. Well, pleasant in that it was an engaging and well crafted story.

Unpleasant in what it's done to my emotions. Carolyn shows no mercy...and I think I love her for it. You honestly won't know until the final few pages who is spared...but do NOT give into temptation and ruins EVERYTHING.

Her novel is uniquely written as three books within one book. The story opens with a tragic accident when a horrific storm causes a shipping freighter, the Wilder Wanderer, to crash into one of the supports under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Florida.

Cars are blinded by the night sky and the driving rain and are unable to see the break in the bridge, with some driving off the shattered edge and into the void, ultimately crashing into the turbulent waters below.

Immediately Carolyn flashes back and introduces three families. In Book One we meet Maureen Roberts and her family. Maureen is the proud mother of two girls, one teen and one preschooler. Aubrey is her joy, and Colleen...well, let's just say she's her challenge.

When Colleen accuses her mother of being a hypocritical Christian, Maureen is forced to examine her life and her relationships. Her response to best friend Ellie's tragic news seems forced and trite, doesn't it? And her marriage, while appearing stable to anyone has a few cracks in the foundation, doesn't it?

Ultimately uncertain about the message of her life and the stability of her faith, Maureen convinces her husband she needs a few days away, and offers to take Aubrey with her. That allows bonding time between Bill and Colleen, and breathing room between Maureen and her eldest child.

In Book Two we meet the Thomason family (be warned: right when you grow extremely fond of one set of characters, Carolyn shifts you into another set...which is cool, but I wanted more with the Roberts family...until I met the Thomasons!). Charles Sr. is proud of his namesake and only child, Charlie.

So is Fran, but their pride in their son manifests itself in different ways. Charles pushes Charlie to give his all to everything he does, while Fran wants to keep her son close and safe. While playing for the championship soccer game, the leg that has been paining Charlie gives out completely...

...thrusting the Thomasons into an arena they are most reluctant to enter. Can Fran and Charles agree on what is in the best interest of their son? Will Charlie be able to set aside the constant tension to focus on what lies ahead of him? And did he win the game?

Is faith is God trusting Him for all things, or picking up your cross daily and just gutting out what comes your way? Or is it a mix of the two? Can Fran and Charles see their way to the truth, and come together for their son, themselves, and for their family? Maybe some time away would help...

...and then we come to Book Three, introducing missionary kid Michal McHenry. While her parents serve on the mission field in Ethiopia, Michal is stateside attending Bible college. Her goal is to return to Ethiopia to serve with her parents, carrying on the family tradition.

But is this God's will for her life? Has Michal just assumed what God wants for her based on tradition, or is this the desire of her heart? Her relationships at school seem solid, but who is hiding what, and how could she have missed all the signs that something was horribly wrong?

Spending Spring Break in Florida with her Aunt Sue brings clarity...until Michal returns to school. There, two separate incidents send her confidence and assurance into a panicked spiral, and sending Michal running back to her aunt in Florida. Surely Aunt Sue can help Michal make sense of what has happened...if she can just get there.

And each story collides with the tragic bridge collapse...but how? Who is spared? What are the ramifications? And how does the ultimate outcome tie all the story threads together? Are they meant to connect? And will we ever see these wonderful, three-dimensional people ever again?

Carolyn has taken on a monumental literary challenge and done a superb job. I was easily engaged in each separate story, lost in the lives I was reading about until abruptly thrust into another part of the story. And that abrupt transition I keep mentioning?

It WORKS! You realize just how invested you were in imaginary people living imaginary lives...and that is some powerful writing. I think I cried more during this book than I have in a long time...and was able to identify with each character on some level.

Although I'm not happy with how Carolyn chose to end the story, it works. It almost had to end up the way it did for the reader to feel satisfied and not cheated. But I wasn't happy. I don't think I was supposed to be...instead, I was supposed to think.

So, be watching for "Bridge to a Distant Star" to release June 1, 2001 from David C. Cook. You know, Cook fiction is always fiction to watch for...such quality! My thanks to Jeane Wynn at Wynn-Wynn Media for surprising me with my advance copy.

I'm giving "Bridge to a Distant Star" five out of five bookmarks, with a star as a charm. Carolyn shares some cool info about stars in the course of the book. Oh, and did I mention I'm also voting it "Best Contemporary Fiction of 2011"??

Yeah, it's that good.

Happy Reading! Photobucket Share/Save/Bookmark

Sell Used Books - Have Your Books Shipped To Us For Free And Get Fast Cash Back!

No comments: