The Broken Bridge is a great coming of age story, where our protagonist, Ginny, must come to terms with life, fear, and betrayal. Her character is by far the best aspect of the novel as she learns and grows.
Ginny lives a comfortable life. She lives with her dad in Wales and they have an easygoing relationship. It is Ginny’s sole desire to become a painter, a passion she picked up from my mother, who was studying art before she died. However, Ginny’s world will change irrevocably when she finds out that they will be receiving a new house guest: her half-brother who is both a surprise and a mystery. What else will Ginny find if she keeps digging?
The Broken Bridge is a story about unraveling the mysteries of our origin. Ginny is at a point in her life where everything she has ever known she has taken for granted. However, now she must grow up as she is asked to live with her new half-brother. What was strongest, to me, in Ginny’s story is her personal transformation in two regards: accepting the faults in our parents and wanting to uncover the truths of our past.
I think we all have a moment in our life where our parents are on a pedestal. This moment when we realize they too, are human, have secrets and flaws, is an important step of growing up. In Ginny’s case she must also come to terms with her own public persona as well and grow into a person she wants to become. Additionally, this catalyst discovery of Robert, her half-brother, turns into an impetus for Ginny to investigate her own past.
The realizations she makes and ways her character evolves is my favorite part of the book. I only have a few minor complaints on Ginny’s ethnicity, the writing, and the pacing. I wish there had been a little more emphasis brought to her feelings of being an outsider (one of the only two black children in her community). Even though this seemed to be mentioned a few times, I felt there was more potential as many of the actions motivations stem from her ethnicity. I do also want to mention that Pullman has a wonderful way of describing the art and the landscape of the book. These few moments are exquisite. Finally, the pacing at the end was abrupt, as if all of a sudden a chest had tumbled free and open, exposing a rush of secrets to the world.
All in all, this book was an enjoyable read that speaks to the power of honesty and the way the truth always manages to escape. Ginny’s journey takes us through her summer of discovery, mistakes, and uncomfortable truths. Hers is a personal journey to make peace with our past and the ghosts you never knew you had.
Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
When did you realize your parents were human too?
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If you liked this book, with a younger protagonist, check out The Light of the Fireflies (an oldie but a goodie!)