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The Last Bridge    by Teri Coyne order for
Last Bridge
by Teri Coyne
Order:  USA  Can
Ballantine, 2010 (2009)
Hardcover, Paperback, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Teri Coyne's The Last Bridge is an utterly compelling story about a relatively young woman whose life has long been spiraling downward to dissolution. Surprisingly it's her mother's suicide that creates a last bridge back for Alexandra 'Cat' Rucker.

A call from an old neighbor pulls Cat back to the Ohio farmhouse she'd never intended to revisit, though she's still dreadfully scarred by her childhood experiences there. Shocked by the suicide of the mother who never shielded her daughter from her father's regular physical and sexual abuse, Cat is even more stunned by the note her mother left her, saying 'Cat, He isn't who you think he is. Mom xxxooo'. Was her mother referring to her husband who has had a stroke and is now in a coma, or to someone else?

In her old home, Cat is reunited with the sister Wendy who insisted on seeing only good in the father who favored her, and the brother Jared who did his best to protect Cat but who ultimately failed her. Cat never told people about the abuse because 'They never believed me. Deep down they wanted to think it wasn't as awful as it seemed. Instead of feeling bad for me, they'd rather act like I was doing something to deserve the treatment.' Cat drinks steadily and tries to avoid her first love, Addison Watkins, the son of her father's best friend (and her mother's lover) Jared.

County Coroner, Andrew Reilly, who was close to Cat's mother before her death, intrudes on her isolation as does Addison, who now has a son. Teri Coyne masterfully moves back and forth in time, revealing the complexities of the Rucker and Watkins familial relationships - as Cat muses, it 'wasn't a family tree; it was a twisted vine choking at the roots.' Coyne shows what has led Cat to the very last rickety bridge in a seemingly doomed life. Her highly recommended novel - which stays with you long after the last page - would make an excellent choice for book clubs.

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