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Book Reviews: The Bridge & The Beginning

The Bridge by Karen Kingsbury (5 star review)

The Bridge

written by Karen Kingsbury

258 pages // published in 2012 // holiday Christian fiction


Karen Kingsbury delivers an instant classic with this heartwarming Christmas story about a hundred-year flood, lost love, and the beauty of enduring friendships. Molly Allen lives alone in Portland, but she left her heart back in Tennessee with a man she walked away from five years ago. They had a rare sort of love she hasn’t found since.

Ryan Kelly lives in Nashville after a broken engagement and several years on the road touring with a country music duo. He can still hear Molly’s voice encouraging him to follow his dreams; Molly, whose memory stays with him. At least he can visit The Bridge—the oldest bookstore in historic downtown Franklin—and remember the hours he and Molly once spent there.

For thirty years, Charlie and Donna Barton have run The Bridge, providing the people of middle Tennessee with coffee, conversation, and shelves of good books—even through dismal book sales and the rise of digital books. Then in May, the hundred-year flood swept through Franklin and destroyed nearly every book in the store.

Now the bank is pulling the lease on The Bridge. Despondent and without answers, Charlie considers the unthinkable. Then tragedy strikes, and suddenly, everything changes. In the face of desperate brokenness and lost opportunities, could the miracle of a second chance actually unfold?

The Bridge is a love story set against the struggle of the American bookstore, a love story you will never forget.

My Review

5 Star Rating

"The truth is, I would do anything for you, sir. Anything that was right."

These words from Jane Eyre seem so beautiful to me now. I can only imagine that it was this literary quote which inspired Kingsbury to write The Bridge. (Just a hunch of mine.) Because the rest of her plot would feel so empty without being able to hinge off those beautiful words. Ah... (sigh of happiness).

This is a story about second chances -- about the God of second chances. I love, love, love how much faith and spiritual encouragement is inside of this book. It's there; you can't miss it.

Also, in the midst of grief, shattering dreams, and fond-but-distant-memories for these memorable characters, we find a lovely storybook-fairytale romance. It's epic. To make it even better, the driving force of their love is books. It pushes these two young lovers closer and closer... if only they could ever acknowledge it and recognize the powerful bond they share.

Note to the discerning reader and parents: I qualify this as a clean read. It's adult fiction, but there's no reason that teenagers couldn't read it. I have a note to share (next), but I could even see that some mature 12-year-olds would enjoy the story. To further discuss what's in the content, I only want to mention that one character becomes depressed, expresses suicidal thoughts and behavior, and also may have "voices" in their head. These elements aren't showcased very deep though.

What a PERFECT gift that The Bridge would be to a booklover in your life. Pair it with a copy of Jane Eyre, and your book-lovin' friend will love you for life.

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And now... let's talk about the short story that serves as the prequel to The Bridge...

The Beginning by Karen Kingsbury (5 star review)

The Beginning
A prequel to The Bridge

written by Karen Kingsbury

64 pages // published in 2012 // Christian fiction short story


From #1 New York Times bestselling author Karen Kingsbury comes this e-short prequel to her upcoming novel, The Bridge, shedding light on the love story behind the bookstore and how it came to be a place of hope and encouragement.

My Review

5 Star Rating

This has got to be the most moving short story I've ever read. It's filled with grief, heartbreak, hope, and resiliency...

Best of all, it's about the healing power of books.

"A small-town bookstore would bridge the pain of yesterday to the promise of tomorrow."

I was on the verge of tears -- so close! And this is only a prequel?! My goodness, I just don't know if I can make it through the novel of 'The Bridge' in one piece (probably not), but I'm ready to start reading it next.

Or rather this very instant...

"'We prayed we'd meet people like you. Hurting people who needed God and a good book. So they'd have a chance to survive.'"

Note to the discerning reader and parents: This is a clean read, but there are a couple of chapters concerning pregnancy and labor complications. Nothing graphic though. A mature 12-year-old reader could handle it.

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