Book Review: The Bridge: A Novel
Book Reviewed by Thumper
The Bridge, the second novel by Solomon Jones, should blow open the doors that
his debut novel, Pipe Dreams did not. I am getting excited simply remembering
the book as I write this review. The Bridge is STUNNING! The book took my breath
away and did not give it back until the last period on the last sentence on the
last page. Solomon Jones has emerged as our generation's Chester Himes. The
Bridge is one of the year's best books.
Police Detective Kevin Lynch is drawn back to the rough, poverty-stricken world of his childhood (a world he would love to forget), when he gets one of those middle-of-the-night calls that never bring good news. His deceased best friend's girlfriend, Daneen Brown, wants him to find her missing 9-year-old daughter, Kenya. Kenya disappeared in the same housing projects that Daneen and Kevin grew up in, known to its tenants as The Bridge. Kevin's search for Kenya will knock the dust off secrets that have haunted Kevin for years, and will force him to come to terms with his childhood, the woman who raised him, and with the Bridge itself.
The Bridge is an amazing, magnificent, and painful tale. It is an urban horror story that is not created to scare the sleep from children. The true horror is the fact that the Bridge exists and Jones duplicated a hell many of us know as everyday living. Jones was able to convey the yearning, despair and hopelessness of true poverty -- poverty of the spirit.
The characters were realistically jaded, hard and complicated. Kevin Lynch is a work of art. The demons he wrestled with throughout the book were heart wrenching. I loved the gradual fashion in which Jones displayed Kevin's internal battle by slowly breaking Kevin's defenses one layer at a time. By the end of the book, Kevin is emotionally stripped, left exposed before the pair of eyes that matters the most -- his own. I appreciate the fact that Jones provides this same treatment to all of the supporting characters in the novel.
I was really impressed with Jones' portrayal of Kenya. It broke my heart. The Bridge is a rare novel that doesn't feature cutesy-wutsey children. Kenya had problems and dealt with them the way any child, despite how intelligent he or she is, would make decisions that have deadly consequences. Kenya's hunger for love and security worked me over. I couldn't help but be emotionally shattered for her and for all of the other Kenyas in our society.
It's a rare thing when the supporting characters are as multidimensional, mysterious, and challenging as the protagonist. No matter which character Jones focused his attention on, Daneen, Judy, Daneen's aunt or Sonny Williams, Judy's boyfriend; all were fascinating, complex and frighteningly human. I could see these people as easily as the sun on a bright, cloudless, summer day.
The Bridge is a true work of art. This story moved like it stole something. Jones efficiently and excitedly built the tension of the story as if one would roll a bowling ball down a steep San Francisco hill. I couldn't get enough. I tripped and fell, head first, into the story and did not come out until I read the last page. With The Bridge, Jones has come into his own maturity as a writer. He has discovered his artistic voice and The Bridge is proof of it.