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Bridge Over the Valley Paperback – June 1, 2010

4.9 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


This is a story that captures the reader's attention and creates difficulty in leaving the book alone. Written in the style of a mystery, this novel is devoid of figurative language that would slow the reader to contemplate the beauty of the words. It is action-filled and fast reading. Most of the story is set in eastern North Dakota in and around a city named Cheneau Valley, which is actually Valley City. Author Gary A. Friedly talked about Valley City in an interview after he completed the novel: "During a trip through North Dakota, I was stopped by a high railroad bridge that passed over a river and town," he said. "Valley City was the perfect setting for a story. I subscribed to the newspaper; I talked with the locals, listened to the radio, studied the landscape and watched the weather. I knew more about their town than my own. I couldn't hide my enthusiasm. I talked to state officials in Bismarck. I talked to folks in Fargo. When the town was evacuated and threatened by a flood, I didn't sleep at night until I learned the town survived. This story is about surviving. There are many characters spread out from Seattle to the Twin Cities. They all converge on Valley City." The novel contains 14 chapters, which are divided into several first-person narratives on the title's topic. In the beginning, I wasn't sold on the technique, but it didn't take me long to catch on. The main characters are young men who have just graduated from high school within the last year or week. Trevor Jensen grows up in an affluent family in Seattle. His parents are professionals, and he and his sisters are able to develop their talents in ballet and music. Trevor is expected to attend an Ivy League college, but he rejects his parents' wishes and signs on to work on "an upscale passenger train" for one year. As a member of the night crew, his assignments cover the area between Seattle and Minneapolis. Travis Olsen grows up on a farm near Cheneau Valley and graduates from high school in an eventful week. He signs to play basketball for the North Dakota State University Bison for the next school term. He and four of his friends were the starters for the last Class A state championship basketball team. He received two prestigious awards for his basketball skills: Mr. Basketball and the Coaches Trophy for outstanding senior athlete. The author skillfully builds our suspicions as to how these two young men from distant cities will meet, and we begin to dread what the outcome will be. Friedly's familiarity with the rural culture stood out to me. The reader is drawn into the Cheneau Valley community as it wraps its arms around its young people. It reminded me of my community and how protective we feel of our young people and how proud we are of their accomplishments. As I read, I admired the expertise the author showed in portraying the youthful characters he created. We are introduced to the strengths and character flaws of each young man. We meet their families and discover their unique circumstances and how they fit into the community. The rescue and aftershocks were so realistic that I would recommend all high school students spend time with this book. Often students have no idea what far-reaching effects their actions can have. This easy-to-read novel is a tragedy that could happen and does happen in any of our small rural communities. The novel is written using straightforward language. There is no sensationalism as far as vulgar language or sexuality. The story would be a good one for youth or just about anyone else. --By Rita Greff, Bismarck Tribune, April 13, 2010

About the Author

Gary A. Friedly had a long career working as a laboratory scientist at the University of California, Irvine Medical Center. During his tenure there, he did technical writing and was a participant in several research projects. His work has been published in several scientific journals.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 410 pages
  • Publisher: Langdon Street Press (a division of Hillcrest Publishing Group, Inc.); 1 edition (June 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1934938823
  • ISBN-13: 978-1934938829
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,818,091 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Gary A.Friedly was born in Billings, MT. During high school, Gary worked on the family cattle ranch in Cinnabar Basin located on the north edge of Yellowstone Park. He graduated from Gardiner High School and the University of Montana with a degree in Science Education. After three years in the classroom, he was admitted to a 12-month internship at the Long Beach VA Hospital which prepared him for the state and national licensing exams. Most of his career, he worked as a clinical laboratory scientist at University of California-Irvine Medical Center in the Clinical Microbiology laboratory. In addition to his clinical work he enjoyed research and technical writing. During his tenure there, several articles and research papers were published in the scientific literature. His first novel, Bridge Over the Valley, a youth drama set in Valley City, North Dakota, was chosen as a finalist in the 2011 San Diego Book Awards for excellence. He is currently in the research stage for his next book which is to be a narrative nonfiction of true crime based on the tragic murder of his former classmate.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book contains an exciting story that combines trains, sports, tragedy and redemption.

The tale is woven together across states and large cities and small towns and most importantly families and friends.

There are a number of story lines.

Trevor puts a promising future and education on hold to work on a train. I really enjoyed the descriptions of the daily ups and downs of life on the train. Woven into this story are the lives of some families and friends in North Dakota. Travis and his buddies set their goals on taking the state basketball championship. They achieve this goal, but the aftermath leads to ultimate tragedy. This isn't the end of the story, the aftermath is compelling.

If you enjoy trains, basketball, or just great writing, you will enjoy this book.
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Format: Paperback
"Bridge Over the Valley" is an ambitious novel which covers a lot of ground, both literally and psychologically. Each character stands distinct, and Friedly owns this book's voice. Think "Pulp Fiction" or "Traffic" on the plains, and you will easily understand the narrative structure of various journeys colliding amidst tragedy and circumstance. The book explores themes of adolescent rebellion and the search for independence; details the grueling adventure of managing a cross-country train route; illustrates how a Dakota community lives vicariously through its student athletes, and finally depicts how this isolated community reacts to a horrific accident involving its favorite son. The author clearly has done his research, conveying the setting as a unique character unto itself. I recommend "Bridge Over the Valley" to anyone seeking an American journey which strikes all of the right emotional chords.
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Format: Paperback
This book was difficult to get into, with diverging plots an seemingly unrelated characters, but after a few chapters it went from confusing to amazing as things began to converge. The characters are real in a sense seldom seen, and there are enough of them that it is impossible not to empathize with a few. I personally saw myself in Trevor and his wanderlust, attempting to create himself and define himself outside of the norm, but I also saw myself in Travis, rebelling down the usual pathways, ending in horrendous disaster.

It is impossible to come away from this book as less than what you were. It's well worth a read, and the editing done upon it is nothing less than superb.
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Format: Paperback
I enjoyed this book very much. I really enjoyed getting to know the characters and their families, and following their experiences, happy and sad ones, and getting to know the areas involved. In fact, I got quite attached to them all. I found it entertaining, interesting and educational too, and would recommend it highly.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A great read. If you like trains you'll enjoy this book. You will be in tears on the last part of the book so be prepared with tissue. It is a holsum book to read by a great new writer. Look for his new book to come out in the near future. This book is available as a Kindle so you can read it on your computer or smart phone.
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