Customer Reviews: The Bridge: A Novel
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on October 24, 2012
I have never given a Karen Kingsbury book less than 4/5 stars! I love her books and her writing, but I can't find words to describe what I feel is lacking with THE BRIDGE. I read the short story prequel THE BEGINNING and was immediately sucked into the story because I felt a great connection with Charlie and Donna and their love of books. I couldn't find that same connection with Molly and Ryan in THE BRIDGE. THE BRIDGE seemed really short. Only 77% of the Kindle edition was the actual book. My favorite part of THE BRIDGE was the group of people coming together to try and help the bookstore. I could identify with that. There are good people out there who will help! Good people helped my family when my son underwent brain surgery with prayers, money or just a shoulder to cry on. In a nutshell, I enjoyed the book but felt something was missing. I wanted more book, more story, more something. Again, I can't rightly express my feelings. However, I continue to be a KK fan and will continue to read her books.

Additional thoughts...I just realized what bugged me about this book. I didn't feel God in the pages. Every other KK book has been very much about prayer, seeking God's wisdom, etc. I like Karen's very in your face writing about God and seeking a relationship with him. I didn't feel that here. Other than Charlie praying about the store, I didn't see the other characters really going to God.

***UPDATED 12/12/15***
The Hallmark Channel recently aired The Bridge as part of their 2015 Christmas movie line up. Seeing the movie lead me to re-read the book. I'm glad I did. I enjoyed it much more this time. I'm changing my rating from 3 stars to 4 stars. The book is still a lot shorter than a usual Kingsbury book and I still wish there was more story for Ryan and Molly. But this time I did find God in the pages. As I read it this time I often wondered how I missed Him the first time.

If you're looking for a short Christmas story about lost love and second chances check out The Bridge.

***UPDATED 4/12/16***
Yes, I know that Hallmark aired The Bridge Part 2 in March vs. their originally planned air date of December 2016. YAY HALLMARK! You can read my thoughts on Part 2 of the movie at bookishdevices(dot)com.
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on October 23, 2012
The Bridge by Karen Kingsbury is a heartwarming story of love, hope, and second chances. "The Bridge," a bookstore, in Franklin, Tennessee has served the community for many years. The owners, unable to pay the rent, are on the brink of losing their store. When tragedy strikes, a former college student who used to frequent "The Bridge" tries to step in and help. While trying to rally a town together, he relives his memories at "The Bridge" and wonders about Molly, his long-ago love.

The Bridge is set between Thanksgiving and Christmas, a time when many are longing for a miracle in their lives and a time when many are getting into the giving spirit. The Bridge will help with this as readers travel to Franklin and stroll down the streets, as they see the small shops and boutiques, and as they gaze into the historic bookstore in downtown Franklin. Many readers will be captured by a previous love and a hope and a prayer for the owner who provided a place for it to happen.

I am a huge Karen Kingsbury fan and I was really excited to read The Bridge. As with most of Karen's books, I was not disappointed. The Bridge kept moving and really held my attention. Many times I found myself caught up in the story-feeling the pain of the characters and longing with them for miracles and second chances.

I received a copy of "The Bridge" from Howard Books via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
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on November 10, 2012
Really? You're kidding me! Those are the words I said out loud when I finished this book. I was reading the book electronically so I had no idea the book was anywhere near being over. The characters were underdeveloped and the ending was so predictable and "tidy". I am a huge Karen kingsbury fan. I've read every novel she's written so it pains me to write a review that is less than 5 star. Unfortunately, This is not a book I will be recommending.
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on November 30, 2012
Like one of the reviewers said, the best part of the book and one of the most enjoyable was the scene at the animal rescue. I really wished I would have taken the critical reviews more seriously, I feel I've wasted my money. This could have been a wonderful, fanciful book full of the Lord but instead I felt it was shallow and almost reminded me of a hastily written Hallmark story. The author does mention the Lord, and that is great but not what I expected. I expected a book I would relish and instead I found myself speeding through the last chapters to get through it. I dislike leaving a critical review but perhaps it will save someone's hard earned money.
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on October 28, 2012
I cannot believe how disappointing "The Bridge" was and that I wasted $10 on it. What has happened to Karen Kingsbury's writing. I have read almost everything she has written, but the past few years her books are either terribly depressing (Coming Home) or just short and boring like this one. Very little interaction between Ryan and Molly, and I had already paid for the prequel so I did not need to read page after page about how the whole thing started. Do not waste your money on this one.
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on January 20, 2013
I read this book when it first came out, before it was turned into a Hallmark movie in two parts. I'm not new to Karen Kingsbury. I loved the September 11th series. I've read all of the Baxter books, and the Bailey Flannigan series. I enjoyed those books...for a while. Then they just kept coming. Bailey Flannigan's ending let me down. I had read four books to see it play out a certain way, and it didn't. Then Karen sort of capped off the whole Baxter family saga with the book "Coming Home." I was so let down by that book, I actually said I was done with Karen Kingsbury. But then the Bridge came out and it had such a beautiful cover, I thought I'd try it. I was disappointed. The cover was the best thing about it. The story fell flat for me. Nothing special. I haven't seen the Hallmark movie, but I'm sure it's good--most of those movies are--but they may have taken certain liberties with the story to make it their own. That doesn't mean the book is as good. Of course that's just my opinion.
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on December 1, 2012
There was a time I would have been the first in line to get the "new Karen Kingsbury book" that stopped more than 10 books ago. Before that time Karen had an edge on Christian Fiction but somewhere along the line it was more about publishing more books and less about Christian Fiction. I had thought it was because she did a series that just went on to long, but after this book I'm not so sure. I can remember when Karen gave away a chapter in her books, now there is a charge for "the extra (The Beginning, and I understand only in e-book form)".

I miss the depth in Karen Kingsbury books.
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on December 2, 2012
This Christmas story from the renowned Christian author, Karen Kingsbury, had been on my wish list, as well as my TBR pile, since I first found out about it in October. The cover, of course, drew me in right away! Besides, I had never gotten around to reading one of Kingsbury's books, despite having promised myself to do so, time and time again. Furthermore, I wanted to kick off this year's Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge with this book. So it was with much excitement that I tore open the Amazon package, and excitedly pulled the book out. I was surprised at its size. I must admit that I had been expecting a larger hardcover. From the size alone, I would say this book is really a novella, not a novel.

Molly Allen and Ryan Kelly are certainly a very appealing couple; they both have dreams of making it big in the musical world -- she as a violinist, playing in an orchestra, and he as a guitarist for a country music band. They first meet at Belmont University, in Franklin, Tennessee, and immediately hit if off, in spite of their very different backgrounds. Molly's father expects her to take over his financial empire, and marry Preston Millington, whom Molly has known all her life, but considers only a friend. Ryan, on the other hand, is expected to marry his high school sweetheart (whom the author never names), settling down to teach music in a high school in Carthage, Mississippi.

The two often meet at a bookstore they consider a very special place -- "The Bridge", owned by Charlie and Donna Barton, a middle-aged couple; it has a reputation for bringing together people of all walks of life, and the owners have always made sure to provide a warm, welcoming environment. Charlie, the bookseller, is even known to be especially generous to people who are unable to afford a special book.

Five years later, Molly is living her own life, out from under her father's wing, in Portland, Oregon, while Ryan is currently unemployed, after having toured extensively with a hot country band. A misunderstanding had torn them apart, but now, because of a crisis involving their beloved bookstore, they will be brought together again...

In spite of loving the characters, and the initial premise of this tale, I have to conclude that I am somewhat disappointed. This is definitely a novella, and a very predictable one at that. There are definite echoes of that annual Christmas film classic, "It's A Wonderful Life", since one of the characters, trapped by tragic financial circumstances, considers suicide as an option. Of course, everyone rallies around this character, including the reunited lovers, who will, as is to be expected, resolve their misunderstanding (which is based on a barely-believable turn of events) in the process. There will be a major miracle, as well as the minor one of Ryan and Molly. It's all very contrived, and there are no surprises.

I didn't read any reviews of this book before I bought it. I definitely wish I had, because I wouldn't have purchased it. In spite of my love for these characters, I do think that they lack the necessary depth. The book should, quite simply, have been much longer. Kingsbury should have given the reader more background for the romance between Molly and Ryan. They knew each other for two years, during college. There should have been more scenes throwing them together, giving more opportunities for the reader to get to know them better. I would also have appreciated seeing them in at least one argument. Every couple argues, even those in romance novels! The fact that they never did, along with the fact that they parted ways so easily, without any fuss, made their relationship, as well as their eventual reunion, a lot less realistic than it could have been.

I was also disappointed by the lack of depth in the characters of Charlie and Donna Barton. If they and their bookstore were so special, the reader should have been witness to several lengthier interactions of Charlie, as well as Donna, with their customers. Charlie did keep a scrapbook of customer photographs, since they became like family, but that's not enough. I would have loved seeing at least a couple of events in which Charlie and Donna's special relationship with their customers was very much in evidence.

I was happy to see Kingsbury champion printed books over digital ones, through this story of a special bookstore, but again, I would have preferred more details about how "The Bridge" played a part in the fight to save the printed book. More conflict in this area would have been greatly appreciated!

After finishing this book, I was left with a refrain from an old song: "Is that all there is?" I was also left with a feeling of sadness at having something missing, since I had been expecting so much more...

My overall impression of this book is that it's much too short, and skimps too much on characterization and plot development. The story is too rushed. The resolutions to the main conflicts in the story -- Molly and Ryan's relationship, and the crisis at the bookstore, are much too facile, much too predictable. I must repeat it -- there were no surprises in this book. It's the typical Christmas story of despair turned to hope, with little in the way of originality. Not that there's anything wrong with the theme of despair turning to hope. However, this theme can be handled in such a way that it seems fresh and new. The author failed to do that here.

In short, this book had a lot of potential, but it was just not fully realized. I'm surprised that a writer of Kingsbury's stature didn't make full use of it. I will in future try out other Kingsbury books, however. Not every book penned by an author is perfect, after all. I'm sure Ms. Kingsbury has written much better books, or she would never have made the bestseller lists as often as she has!
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on December 16, 2015
I loved this book. I started reading it because I had watched the hallmark movie of the same name. The movie left you handing with to be continued.. the book is much better than the movie. I am now started on my second Karen Kingsbury book.
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VINE VOICEon December 19, 2015
The Bridge is a short Christmas story with dashes of Christianity thrown in. It is also entirely predictable, often annoying, and rather pedestrian. The story involves two college students who fall in love at a bookstore called The Bridge. She comes from wealth in California. He comes from Kentucky, and as her father tells the young man, there’s no way the couple can become involved. But over the years, they do become involved until on one fateful night, they kiss, expressing the passion they’ve both felt for years. The next day, everything falls apart, and she goes back to California alone.

Several years later, a flood wipes out the bookstore that they love so much, and the owner, unable to make ends meet, channels his inner George Bailey and thinks about killing himself. There really is no need to fill in the rest of the story. It is entirely by the numbers.

By-the-numbers Christmas stories are hardly new. Indeed, there seems to be a requirement that a story with a Christmas setting end happily if the story is to enjoy popular appeal. But this one nearly lapses into parody. The scope of the story—several years—means that much of the story is told rather than shown, and the breakup between the couple raises no emotion, at least for me, other than something bordering on contempt. Had the couple communicated even slightly, the pair would not have split. And besides, from the beginning, we know the final result, so there is (again, at least for me), no suspense or depth of emotion.

I mentioned that the story has dashes of Christianity thrown in. The characters do pray from time to time, and God is mentioned several times, including in the last sentence. But it almost seemed as if the prayers and references were added as afterthoughts. (I’m sure that’s not actually the case, but it seems that way.) Still, most of the book seems that way: shallow, hackneyed bits that never seem truly real or substantial. Unfortunately, the best-realized character in the book may be Jane Eyre, from the book that ties the young lovers together.
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