The Last Bridge: Book summary and reviews of The Last Bridge by Teri Coyne

The Last Bridge

By Teri Coyne

The Last Bridge
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  • Published in USA  Jul 2009,
    240 pages.

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Book Summary

For fans of Jodi Picoult and Sue Miller, a dark, edgy, page-turning debut about the lengths one woman will travel to escape her past.

After a ten-year absence, Alex "Cat" Rucker returns to her Ohio hometown because of a letter left on her mother's kitchen table—a suicide note, carefully preserved in a Ziploc bag, that reads:

"He isn't who you think he is. Love, Mom"

Thus opens this stunning debut novel from author Teri Coyne, who, with wry humor and sharp wit, follows Alex's journey through the traumatic experiences of her youth and the haze of her adult life.

While Alex tries to repress the memories of her brutal childhood—an abusive father, her estranged (and possibly illegitimate) brother, and the first love who would do anything to save her—she must face just how shattered she still is. At each step Alex confronts her biggest fears, realizes the impact of her choices, and inches closer to redemption. Can she embrace her vulnerabilities, talents, and desire for love, or will the revelations of her mother's cryptic note prove too overwhelming for her to bear?

The Last Bridge is a perfect blend of suspense, despair, and romance—and at its heart lies the question: are we a product of our experiences or our choices?

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Coyne's compelling debut shines an unnerving light on the fallout from a childhood rooted in abuse ... Coyne's prose effortlessly carries the reader through a thorny history and into possible redemption." - Publishers Weekly

"Coyne's debut novel is a psychological tour de force, a disturbing yet ultimately redemptive tale of the burden of secrets and the tenacity of love." - Booklist

"Coyne's sure-handed debut wrings new insight from the over-exploited topics of incest and domestic violence." - Kirkus Reviews

"Teri Coyne grabbed me from the first page and never let me go. I read through the night until I came to the last lovely chapter. The Last Bridge is a whirlwind of a book." - Amanda Eyre Ward, author of Forgive Me

"Teri Coyne has created a hypnotic portrait of an American family under attack from within, told with such unflinching honesty that you cannot take your eyes off the page. Not since Bastard Out of Carolina have we seen the breathtaking courage it takes to survive and triumph after paying the price of dark secrets corroding the heart of a family. Cat stings you with her caustic tongue, makes you laugh out loud with her wild humor, brings you to tears with the revelation of her trials, and finally lifts you to your feet as she fights her way free to love again. This is a tough, rewarding read you'll never forget." - Jonis Agee, author of The River Wife

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Reader Reviews

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Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Mary Q. (Greeley, CO)
The Last Bridge -- Emotional Novel
This extremely dark novel with an incredibly dysfunctional and complicated array of family members was often difficult for me to read. Each one of the characters was struggling with his or her own set of sad circumstances through most of the book. I also had a hard time making the frequent transitions from past to present without often feeling jarred and slightly confused.

Even so, I gave this book a fairly high rating because I thought the writing was generally expressive (though not of the caliber of Sue Miller to whom Teri Coyne has been compared), and I think the primary characters and plot will probably be memorable for me. I don't feel the grittiness and true intent of this book would translate well to the screen, but I do think it would be an excellent book club choice because of the tough issues providing strong opportunities for discussion.

Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Jennifer F. (Tucson, AZ)
Promising premise doesn't pan out
The premise of this book was promising and I was immediately drawn into wanting to know more about the character and who the "he" was that was referred to in her mother's note. But, unfortunately, the story gets a bit muddled and having two characters with the same name was confusing. I thought the author tried to get too much into the story. Overall it was an OK read, but I thought it would have been better.

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Sandy P. (Gainesville, FL)
The Last Bridge....family dynamics
I thought the book was excellent. Good character development. I enjoyed how the story line went from current to childhood experiences that contributed and had a correlation to what was currently happening in the character's lives. It lent credence to how their adult lives evolved based on their early experiences.

Family dynamics persisted.....with multiple siblings, does one child always feel like 'odd man out' when it comes to receiving their fair share of parental love and attention?

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Lea Ann M. (Seattle, WA)
The Last Bridge by Teri Coyne
This book captured my attention the moment I saw the cover. On the cover is a "note," a sticky note, or so it seems. On it are simply the words, "Cat. He isn't who you think he is. Mom xxxooo" The author does a masterful job of tantilizing the reader with clues as to who the "he" of the note may be. In the meantime we are treated to scenes that draw the reader in and which invite introspection. An especially good thing for a book which is read by a book group.

For those who like books with a bit of meat on their bones and one which leaves the reader thinking of the book long after the last page is read, I recommend The Last Bridge.

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Shellie N. (Scottsdale, AZ)
Emotional and hard to put down
The Last Bridge is a very emotional novel; a page turner that’s hard to put down, like a horrible accident that has happened by the side of the road and you can't keep yourself from looking, even though you know it’s not going to be good. I found myself feeling all sorts of strong negative emotions due to the situations in the plot and the actions of the characters. It’s difficult to like the main character but you do come to understand her behavior. I can't say it’s an enjoyable read, but it’s a powerful novel with a clear message that covers difficult subject matter.

I would recommend this book to anyone interested in domestic violence, addiction, and recovery. This would be an excellent book to read in a book club where members are focused on social issues that are relevant today.

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Jane H. (Indianola, Iowa)
The Last Bridge
Teri Coyne has written an excellent novel. She is a very descriptive writer, and puts words together that keep the reader on edge. There were times when I was uneasy with her flashbacks. Many times I felt they popped up at awkward times, making me break my focus on the story. I also wish the author had make her secondary characters stronger - especially Diane.

The Last Bridge is a strong book! I highly recommend it.

...10 more reader reviews

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Teri Coyne is an alumna of New York University. In addition to writing fiction, Teri performed stand-up comedy for many years and has written several short films. The Last Bridge is her first novel. She lives in New York City.

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