The Other Side of the Bridge
Naomi Brun is a librarian assistant in Communications and Community
Development at the Hamilton Public Library and a book reviewer for the
Mary Lawson’s first novel, Crow Lake (2002), told the story of four
children whose parents were tragically killed in a car crash. Praised
for the beauty of its narrative voice, the book focused on that one
event as the pivotal moment in the lives of each of those four children.
Because of that accident, three of the four children chose to remain in
Struan, their remote northern village; the one who left suffered
overwhelmingly from both separation anxiety and guilt.
In this, her second novel, Lawson continues to focus on the aftermath
of isolated dramatic events. However, her attention shifts away from one
central family to the community of Struan at large. A teenage boy, tired
of being duped by his slick younger brother, ignores a serious cry for
help on a suspension bridge. An urban woman, stranded in the Ontario
wilderness, abandons her son to his well-meaning but depressed father.
A friendless, scared girl, new to the area, falls for a charming but
untrustworthy boy. These scenarios may appear trivial to outsiders, but
they have devastating consequences for those involved.
The Other Side of the Bridge tells what happens after the story is
supposedly over. For Lawson, after the prankster falls, after the mother
leaves, after the girl makes an unlikely match is where the real story
lies. That is where characters struggle with unbearable truths, learn
resilience, and find a way to weave dross into gold.
Lawson’s writing is exquisite in its understated grace. In fact, her
voice is a mere suggestive whisper, which allows the reader to more
easily slip into the hearts and minds of the novel’s central