Saturday, April 2, 2011

Here Lies Bridget by Paige Harbison

Title: Here Lies Bridget
Author: Paige Harbison
Publisher: Harlequin/ Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: January 18th, 2011
Pages: 271 pages (paperback)
How I Got the Book: through the Amazon Vine program.

What do you do when the five people you meet in limbo all want you to go to hell?

Bridget Duke is the uncontested ruler of her school. The meanest girl with the biggest secret insecurities. And when the new girl Anna Judge arrives, things start to fall apart for Bridget: friends don't worship as attentively, teachers don't fall for her wide-eyed "who me?" look, expulsion looms ahead and the one boy she's always loved--Liam Ward--can barely even look at her anymore.

When a desperate Bridget drives too fast and crashes her car, she ends up in limbo, facing everyone she's wrong and walking a few uncomfortable miles in their shoes. Now she has only one chance to make a last impression. Though she might end up dead, she has one last shot at redemption and the chance to right the wrongs she's inflicted on the people who mean the most to her.

And Bridget's about to learn that, sometimes, saying you're sorry just isn't enough...


Bridget Duke, daughter of a famous former athlete and current sports commentator, rules her school with an iron fist. Everyone knows her name and either loves or fears her, and that's just how she likes it. After a new girl comes to school and Bridget's popularity/power begins to wane and be exposed for what it is, she does something stupid and ends up crashing her car. It almost kills her, but not quite. Instead, she goes to limbo, where six people wait to judge her. Through their eyes, she sees all that she's done and feels how much she hurt them. She has a chance to return to life and right her wrongs, but that's only if her judges decide she deserves a second chance.

I hadn't heard anything about this book or even gone looking for anything like it until I saw it pop up on Amazon Vine and I decided it sounded like a fun read. It sounded a little bit like a famed YA book called Before I Fall (which, I shall clarify, I have never read), but I was willing to give it a try. Thank goodness I did! I have a new favorite, readers, and its name is Here Lies Bridget!

You won't mistake Bridget for anything but a mean girl for a second. If the blurb doesn't make it clear, the way she acts towards people in it will. Treating her well-meaning stepmother like a pile of dung, embarrassing her teacher and getting him in trouble, getting others into big trouble for things they never did,... This list could go on for a while, people. I'm not sure it's possible to read this book and not hate Bridget. I think she was a great example of how to write an unlikable character and make them interesting enough to keep reading about. Oh, and how to write teens that actually sound like teens. Authors should takes notes on this one and you bet I'm taking them, both as a future author and a teen. Because of Bridget, I'm seriously reconsidering how I treat people.

While my jaw spent the first half of the book on the floor at the horrid things Bridget does, I spent the second half bawling like a newborn child. It was always over little, sentimental things too. Bridget and her stepmother watching a movie and eating fondue together. How Liam missed the girl Bridget used to be. Bridget calling her dad. Meredith's... well, that would be a spoiler, so I won't say it. Mr. Ezhno's embarrassment by Bridget and other students. Bridget's missing her friendship with Liam. Every other thing made me cry and I swear, I don't normally cry this much. I keep saying that in my reviews and I swear, it's true. In the last eight months, I've ran across more books that made me emotional than I did in the sixteen years and seven months before it. This a good sign not just for my reading choices or this book, but for the young adult genre as a whole.

The funny thing is that in real life, I know about five Bridgets. There's probably a proper trope name for it, but I define a Bridget (n.) as a person who is popular through putting others down and using that to get to the top. Students and teachers alike are forced to endure their antics for fear of being the next target or receive worse treatment than before. However, the Bridget is only tolerated for a certain amount of time. It may be funny at first, but it gets old quickly and then their actions don't get the same reaction as they once did. They Bridget may or may not adapt to this. Might I add that four of the five Bridgets I know are male?

The ending was where a few issues popped up and started bugging me. I felt that the last twenty pages of so were rushed; the book needed to be a little bit longer so the reader could see more of a long-term effect. All of her apologies are given in the span of twelve hours and we needed more than just that. How did Mr. Ezhno and Brett respond to Bridget's apologies? We don't know. What about her dad?

Readers are also left with little to no idea of who or what Anna Judge is or was. Is she a manifestation of karma? Was she a real girl once, one of the mean girls now cursed to help other mean girls see what they did to others and leave when her job is done? The idea of Anna and who/what she is would make an even better story and seeing Harbison one day write a book to cover that would make me the jump-around-and-scream kind of happy.
This book is (and I hope I'm using the word correctly) a paradox. It was so good that I want to reread it until I'm sick, but I'm scared to read it a second time because I'm scared it won't have the same emotional impact it had on me the first time around. Bridget is an interesting character, but she is also very unlikable. If you have trouble putting aside the dislike of a narrator or main character for the sake of an interest, be wary of this book. I did it and found a book I never expected to love yet love anyways. Let's just hope I don't start calling the Bridgets in my life Bridgets out loud!

5 stars!

What am I reading next?: Glass by Ellen Hopkins

1 comment:

  1. Interesting. I actually hated this book, and it was because of the main character. She was beyond redemption, IMO. You can read my review here.

    I have read Before I Fall, and I would highly recommend you read that one, if you haven't already done so. I liked it much more than Here Lies Bridget.


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