A Thoughtful Romance with a Positive Message
Publication Date: July 29, 2014
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Lauren has a secret. Colby has a problem. But when they find each other, everything falls into place.
Lauren is the new girl in town with a dark secret. Colby is the football hero with a dream of something more. In alternating chapters they come together, fall apart, and build something stronger than either of them thought possible — something to truly believe in.
A romance doesn’t have to be original to be a hit, but it should be sincere. Readers need to be sold on the characters, their feelings for one another, and their actions and reactions. If any one of the elements is missing or out of alignment, the believability of the whole suffers. While I never once doubted the sincerity of author Lisa Schroeder or her intended message, I did have some quibbles with how her message was conveyed. Taken individually, these are minor issues that don’t prevent one from enjoying the reading experience. When combined, however, these gripes rob the story of its luster and weaken its intended impact.
First person point-of-view can be tricky. While appearing simpler, it’s actually more difficult to pull off. The Bridge From Me To You takes on a double challenge: alternating points-of-view between its primary players. Colby’s chapters are standard prose; Lauren’s chapters are largely free verse. While this technique helps the author avoid a common pitfall (having two characters who sound virtually the same), since Colby’s voice isn’t convincingly male, Schroeder doesn’t come through unscathed. Additionally, if you aren’t a huge fan of free verse, you might not be so taken by Lauren’s chapters. If you do like free verse, though, you’ll probably find the chapters a boon.
Despite these issues weakening my connection with the characters, I was still able to sympathize with each of their personal battles. Colby is weary of being the town football hero and feeling pigeonholed as a stereotypical, one-dimensional jock. The pressures of his present and future weigh him down. Lauren is burdened by her past. And you’ll see the details of such and her feelings about it unfold gradually. Both teens feel misunderstood by the world at large, while discovering in each other a comfortable, trustworthy person who asks the right questions to learn the things left unshared or unspoken. And someone who cares to know the answers.
Lauren and Colby’s relationship develops naturally and chastely. Their feelings for one another aren’t instant or unrealistic. However, while I could see how Lauren and Colby helped one another, I was never as invested in their relationship as they were. When Lauren talks about how much Colby means to her, I’m kind of rolling my eyes. And that makes me feel like a jaded adult devaluing young love. Am I forgetting what it was like? Not entirely so. It’s more likely that something impeded my ability to internalize Lauren and Colby’s feelings.
Thematically, The Bridge From Me To You imparts some life lessons about faith, love, family, friendship, and dreams. While uplifting and important, the message was rendered less potent by a palpable shift in tone that left me feeling like words were put into the characters’ mouths. The author seemed to take the reins where it would have felt more convincing to hear the characters relate things in a voice that felt more wholly their own.
Finally, to readers of romance, many aspects of the plot and the drama will feel familiar. As I said in my intro, this doesn’t have to be a bad thing. To give things a unique spin, Schroeder attempts to get a little artistic. Each character has a passion: for Colby it’s bridges, for Lauren, birds. I was never entirely convinced that Lauren’s dream was ornithology. As for Colby’s dream — I believed him. While I can’t say any more without spoilers, I felt there were some gaps in his logic in mapping out the logistics of his pursuit of this dream.
I hesitate to undervalue this novel’s positivity. The characters aren’t snarky or jaded, nor do they make stupid choices or move too quickly. There are loving, supportive family members in place. This is an introspective tale, not a steamy love story. In other words, rather than simply make your heart go pitter-patter, Schroeder aspires to touch your soul. Unfortunately, as with the thematic focus, the building of the artistic framework feels altogether too obvious, the brushstrokes of the artist too visible. As a result, you are intellectually aware of the process rather than moved by the end product.
— Dawn Teresa
3.5 of 5 Hearts. A Thoughtful Romance with a Positive Message.
The Bridge From Me To You tells its story in a sincere effort to inspire and uplift. While its message is successfully communicated, its emotional impact is diminished by flaws in the writing. Though she didn’t execute her vision as powerfully as I would have liked, Schroeder is to be applauded for her efforts to elevate her romantically-minded tale by putting a little meat on its bones.
*Disclosure of Material Connection: I would like to thank NetGalley and Point for providing me access to this title. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”