Bridgetown High

Young Adult - Coming of Age
378 Pages
Reviewed on 01/31/2017
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Natasha Jackson for Readers' Favorite

Bridgetown High is the story of seventeen-year-old Mark Wilkerson who just lost his parents and a sister in a fatal Christmas Eve car crash where he and another sister were the only survivors - and he has no memory of the crash. There are clues, flashes of memory, but he can’t remember all the details so soon after the incident. Sent to live with his grandmother and start over at a new high school, Mark has to grapple with bullies, revenge, drugs, and pretty much your standard high school drama. Author Paul West does a good job of handling the gravity of Mark’s situation and the fact that he’s a teenage boy.

With a pretty big emphasis on forgiveness, Bridgetown High is at its heart a mystery that unfolds over the course of the novel. What I liked most was watching the pieces come together for Mark about that night because I’m a sucker for a good whodunit and the way Paul West set each scene was fantastic. The 1960s setting was described beautifully and gave an aura of innocence to a pretty dark story. What I enjoyed less was the focus on the high school minutiae, although it did enhance the story and help the reader understand Mark and his feelings. There were plenty of moments of rage, guilt, and vengeance, and West executed them beautifully. Bridgetown High is an emotional read that at times reaches beyond its Young Adult roots to pull in readers of all ages. Without giving anything away, I will say the ending left me feeling surprised and mostly fulfilled.

Paul West

Is revenge truly justice.... or just a sure path to more tragedy.

Bridgetown High is an intriguing look into the minds and motives of teenagers during the 1960s.

Seventeen year old Mark Wilkerson has no memory of the fiery crash that killed his family on the Carquinez Bridge…

Now, living with his grandmother and burdened with guilt, Mark vows to find the hit-and-run driver and take his revenge. But, the only detail he remembers is round taillights swerving in front of his family’s car, and he’s shocked when he notices the car of the high school’s bully, Jeff Marino, has identical taillights—and a suspicious dent. Now he wants revenge more than ever…

Jeff believes Mark is an anti-Vietnam War activist like his cousin Gary—and despises him for it. To make matters worse, when Jeff’s girlfriend, Genie Lombardi, dumps him for Mark, it kicks Jeff’s hatred for him to a dangerous new level.

Lies and threats escalate, until drugs and a shocking death send Jeff over the edge, and his campaign to get Genie back any way he can turns violent.

When Mark’s memory begins to return, it leads to a terrifying confrontation. Will he finally prove the identity of the guilty driver? Or will he and Genie become one more tragedy associated with the Carquinez Bridge?