Henry meets Christa on the west tower of the Brooklyn Bridge, just as they’re both about to jump off and kill themselves. Despite his paralyzing depression—and
her panic over a second bout of cancer—they can’t go through with their plans knowing that the other is going to die. So they make a pact—they’ll stay
alive for 24 hours, and try to convince each other to live. From the Staten Island Ferry to Chinatown to the Museum of Modern Art—Henry and Christa embark
on a New York City odyssey that exposes the darkest moments of their lives. Is it too late for them? Or will love give them the courage to face the terrifying
possibility of hope?
blurb taken from Goodreads.
This book is unlike anything that I have ever read and I find that it is a struggle to put in words the many emotions that I felt while reading it. I would even say that this book pretty much busts the romance genre wide open with its frank, unapologetic premise and the realistic depictions of depression. There was no buffer for me, and I felt sucked in to a story that I both wanted out of and needed to keep reading all at the same time. In other words, this book ripped my heart out, stomped on it a few times, ground the rest of that muscle in to the dirt, and then fed it back to me in teeny tiny flecks. Even though I knew that this book would be about depression and suicide, I wasn’t prepared to be as triggered and upset as I became. Yet, even though I had to read in bite-sized chunks, it was quite a ride and left me with a feeling of both being hopeful and wanting to flail.
The story is told over a 24-hour period by Henry and Christa who alternate in its telling. They meet each other on top of the Brooklyn bridge right before they are about to jump off of it. They are both done with this life for various reasons and are ready to go through with one final act. Both of them decide that they cannot allow the other to jump, which I found ironic. Then they both decide that they are going to convince the other that they should live, and pretend as though the other person is helping them somehow. I found that particular bit to be darkly humorous.
I am here for one reason and one reason only. And that is to trick Henry into thinking he’s helping me.
“It’s not going to change anything for me, Henry. I know what I have to do. But maybe it will change something for you.”
I do my best to smile. “Maybe.” I know it won’t. But it can’t hurt for her to think it will.
Therein lies the beauty of the writing. The story is dark and Christa and Henry are done with everything. Yet, there were many places in the story that made me simply laugh as much as cry.
The nice thing about knowing you’re going to die is that you can eat all the hot fudge you want and not worry about whether your ass is going to need its own zip code. I figure the creatures at the bottom of the East River have seen worse, so I order a double and wait outside on the steps for Henry.
I felt for these characters. I could understand why they wanted to be finished, and yet I read on, afraid but not wanting to look away.
Henry and Christa take each other on one final tour to favorite spots in New York where they both hope to make the other decide that they will not return to the bridge the next morning. It was frustrating and heartbreaking to see how they tried to push past their depression to make the other want to live, yet they themselves felt as though there was simply no more life left within them. In this story, we find out what it is that makes both of them decide to take their own lives. Details are not spared, punches are not pulled. That is the kind of realism that makes me want to keep reading but also makes me want to hide in a bubble and get my safe cushy world of fiction back. It does not make for comfortable reading at all.
I really enjoyed the interplay between the main characters. They could banter with each other, scream at each other, and have open, honest discussions that probably are not possible otherwise. The descriptions of various sights and scenes that they experienced leapt off of the page. Their despair and resignation of the inevitable cut me to the quick, and I didn’t want to make it to the ending. I didn’t want to be invested in these characters anymore. I didn’t want to continue because if I stopped halfway through, the characters might not be happy, but I wouldn’t have to read an ending that I was dreading even if I didn’t know how the story would conclude.
The greatest take away for me was the way that this author was able to put words to what depression can feel like. I haven’t been able to do that for myself, but suddenly as I was reading, those words resonated with me far more deeply than I wanted.
“No, don’t feel bad for me.” He turns to face me. “My mom and dad weren’t especially warm, but they provided for me just fine. Sharon gave what she gave while she was with us, and it was plenty. I’m just looking for something to pin this…feeling on. This chemical, physiological feeling. But there’s nothing to explain it away, not really. I have this, I don’t know, lead blanket on me all the time, that makes everything feel heavy. It’s nobody’s fault.”
I am completely tied up over this book. Nothing has twisted me up like this since ‘Gone Girl’. It is extremely difficult to try to encapsulate the nuances of what I read without flailing and just telling you to read it if you can.
The Bridge was a dark journey in to what so few can really explain. It’s about two people dealing with life and deciding to be done. It’s sad, it’s humorous, it’s touching. There are sweet moments, and intense emotional moments that make it difficult to read. I don’t have to be convinced of a happily ever after or happily for now. What it gave though was the gentle unfurling of tentative hope. It was realistically written, and heartbreakingly accurate, and I give this book an A+.