The Broken Bridge by Philip Pullman is a coming of age story with a difference. Narrator Ginny is a black 16 year old living in a white world and wanting to acknowledge her heritage while still being a part of that world. I loved it and highly recommend!
Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 2301 KB
Print Length: 224 pages
Publisher: Open Road Media Teen & Tween (2 May 2017)
Hailed by the New York Times as “a credit to the storytelling skill of Philip Pullman,” The Broken Bridge is the tale of Ginny, a sixteen-year-old half-Haitian girl living with her father in a small seaside village in Wales. She’s becoming a brilliant artist, just like her mother, who died when Ginny was a baby. Despite the isolation she sometimes feels, her life is turning out OK. Then her social worker cracks open her files and her world falls apart.
Ginny’s father has kept a devastating secret from her all her life. In fact, everything she thought she knew about her family and her identity is a lie. And now, to find out who she really is, Ginny must relive the dark tragedies in her past.
When Ginny comes home from school one day near the end of the summer term there’s a stranger talking to her dad. With recent media about a single dad abusing his daughter she’s anxious that the stranger thinks this is happening to her because she lives alone with her dad. This is exactly how a teen would think (in my experience). It’s not until her best friend’s sister shares something that Ginny can confront her dad for the truth and what she finds out turns her world upside down.
I loved Ginny’s character. She appears self-assured although underneath she’s seething with questions about love and kissing and where she belongs. Looking at the world through her artist’s eye was inspiring. Ginny’s ability to live in the moment, the sights and sounds I found quite uplifting (and a reminder to slow down and take notice myself!). I loved her determination and spirit. She is callous at times but for me fits perfectly with her age and the independence she’s experienced growing up.
The isolation of the setting and the small community of Llangynog is perfect for the social barriers to play out. It often felt like Ginny was on the edge, confusion between straddling her school friends lives and the adult lives. The myth of Pont Doredig (the broken bridge) becomes a fascination for her leading her to a confrontation. Linked with finding out more about her Haitian heritage, this scene raised the hairs on the back of my neck!
The secret that is revealed is only the beginning as more unfolds. Ginny remembers some experiences as a child and these flashbacks had me trying to fit everything together. Intrigue! I couldn’t help the tears when Ginny’s dad shared his own childhood experiences with her. Very emotive.
The Broken Bridge has a great pace and interesting characters. A reminder that not all is as it seems on the surface and how we do others a disservice with our preconceived notions. It’s a story about roots and family and how far we’re prepared to go to try and make things right and how that affects the future. It’s about finding out where we belong and who we are. I loved it!
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