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.
Title: The Bridge from Me to You
Author: Lisa Schroeder
Category: Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary/Contemp Romance
Publisher: Scholastic (Point)
Publication Date: July 29, 2014
Length: 336 pages
Series or Standalone: Standalone
Themes: Family Problems
POV: Alternating First Person
How I Found It: I’d heard a fair amount about Lisa Schroeder before reading this, particularly about her habit of writing verse novels. In fact, I assumed before reading this that both characters would have their chapters in verse. When Nick said he had an ARC from NetGalley for Schroeder’s newest book and would I like to review it, I was very excited.
Cover Notes: I’ve used the hardback edition cover here. My ARC had a different one. To be honest, I didn’t care much for either of them. They just seemed so generic. I wanted a cover that better represented Lauren and Colby.
Soundtrack: The book is set in the Pacific Northwest–Oregon specifically, and Lauren has just moved to a new town from Seattle, Washington. Naturally I went for some indie folk and rock. Lisa Scroeder apparently had the same idea, because I found out a few chapters in that Lauren’s best friend in her new town loves The Head and the Heart.
This is going to be a complicated review. I’ve heard a lot of people praising Schroeder’s use of verse in novels. I also saw a few reviewers compare Bridge to The Fault in Our Stars. Neither of these assessments are accurate in my view. The book does not live up to the quality I expect in YA literature these days, and it certainly isn’t the next TFIOS.
The first problem I had with the book was that Lauren’s poetry chapters were too short. The poetry wasn’t very good, although it had a few nice moments. It would have worked just fine as stream of consciousness prose in instead of “poetry”. I liked Lauren’s character, and there were a couple chapters in my ARC where hers was in prose. I loved the chapters much more than any of her others. I think I would have liked the book more if Schroeder had used that format. It seemed kind of like the poetry in this novel was a gimmick more than a well-thought out stylistic choice. And as I said, Lauren’s chapters were so short. I felt like she was the real main character of the story, and I wish she had gotten more page time.
Lauren herself was a very interesting character. She had a dark event in her past, and it was not what I was expecting. I felt like it did a great job of informing her character, and differentiating her from many other YA Romance protags out there. That’s one of the things that made this novel so disappointing for me. It had such potential. That might be the major theme of this review, really. I also liked Lauren’s relationship with her uncle’s family. It was very realistic, and it informed a lot of my opinions on Lauren’s character.
I did have one nit to pick, which was how hard the author beat the “new girl” drum. Being the new kid, especially in a small town, can be tough. But it never actually seemed to cause Lauren any trouble. Perhaps if we’d seen a bit more of the characters’ school life, it would have been different. But it wasn’t.
Colby was also an interesting character, though I didn’t like him as much as I liked Lauren. He’s a football star, which is a bit cliche, and his issues on the field were similarly cliche. But there were some hints at something deeper. Rather than planning on a football scholarship to college, Colby wants to study engineering. He loves bridges, and there’s a sweet moment where he takes Lauren to a local covered bridge. Naturally, this desire causes a great deal of tension between Colby and the rest of his football-loving small town. Especially when his best friend Benny gets in an accident. But, I did wish there had been a deeper exploration of his character. Like many other initially intriguing aspects of the story, Colby’s character arc felt rushed. I think the novel could have done with another hundred pages or so of development, both of the plot and the characters.
As another example, Colby’s friend Stasia, who later becomes Lauren’s best friend after Stasia’s moved to Berkeley, gets barely any time. Just enough to commiserate a bit about Colby’s apparent disinterest in Lauren. It annoyed me that while Colby got page time with both his friend Benny and their families, Lauren barely gets any time with Stasia, and spends most of it dealing with her uncle or Colby.
I heard somewhere that the novel might be something of a send-up to one of the author’s favorite TV shows, Friday Night Lights. Having seen some of that show, I have to say if that was the intention, it failed. FNL is more like what this book could have been, or should have been. In fact, I would have liked the book a lot more if it was closer to FNL.
In the end, The Bridge from Me to You felt more like the rough draft of a novel to me than a finished piece. While it was a sweet romance, and the characters took their relationship intentionally slow in a away I wish more YA romance characters did, that wasn’t enough to save it from its many flaws.
ETA: All of that said, I’m not writing off the entire author. I’ve heard great things about her other books, and I do love the concept of a verse novel.
Conclusion: 60/100 (I wanted to like it, but I couldn’t)
Premise: 4/10 (Not the most creative)
Plot: 6/10 (Potential un-reached)
Setting: 6/10 (Standard small football town)
Main Character(s): 8/10 (Stood out in an otherwise mediocre novel)
Love Interest 6/10 (Had potential, didn’t reach it)
Romance Plot 5/10 (Didn’t live up to it’s potential)
Supporting Characters: 6/10 (The ones I really liked got very little page time)
Writing: 3/5 (Did not care for the poetry or the prose, but it was readable)
Voice: 2/5 (Lauren was decent, didn’t buy Colby as a teenage boy)
Themes: 7/10 (Great themes, but poor execution)
Resolution: 7/10 (Sweet, but a bit cliche)
Buy Or Borrow: Borrow from the library or a friend if you must, but I didn’t find it worth the cost.