The Last Bridge is an interesting debut novel by Teri Coyne. When Cat Rucker’s mom carefully commits suicide, she leaves a note sealed in a Ziploc bag for her daughter, “He isn’t who you think he is.” From this enigmatic note, Cat finds herself brought back into the life she ran from a decade before. Can Cat finally make peace with her past, the violence and abuse her father rained down on the family? Can she overcome alcoholism and despair to find a place in her life for her family once more?
Teri Coyne has written a well crafted, intense and oft times heartbreaking novel. Although I initially felt that the premise of the vague suicide note was weak, I came to believe this vagueness of the note was purposeful. Coyne’s protagonist, Cat is a miserable person, unable to lift herself up out of the miasma her life has become. By leaving her daughter such an ambiguous note, her mother was able to gently point out to her daughter that many people in her life aren’t who they appear to be, in fact Cat herself isn’t what she believes herself to be. Helping Cat come to this understanding is what ultimately sets Cat on the path of self-discovery and forgiveness that might allow her to rebuild her life.
My only complaint about the novel is the similarity of the characters names. Although it was effective, the device of Cat/Alex and Alex sharing a name was sometimes a bit confusing. Two Jared’s, an Andrew and an Addison round out the cast, and all of them seem to be related in some manner. The names of the characters were, in some small way, integral to the storyline, but still often slightly disconcerting.
The Last Bridge reminds us that its important to preserve that last bridge we might otherwise burn behind us, the bridge that can ultimately take us back to the people we love and who love us.