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Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite
Swinging Bridge by Debra Shiveley Welch is a compilation of work written and assembled by the author to form a memoir in an autobiographical collage of her life. Welch describes a difficult childhood of indifference and abuse, neglect and unfulfilled ability. This transcends into a marriage of convenience – however inconvenient it actually was – as a means of escape. She has the vision of a clairvoyant and the capacity to commune with those who have left their earthly bodies. She is also a mother who raises a son to be everything she believed he could achieve in spite of the odds (and doctors) certain of otherwise.
Through it all (and she has seemingly been through it all), Debra Shiveley Welch is able to deliver a message that sings of positivity in the face of trials that could crush even the strongest of women. Her poetry is moving and she has been writing it for years, many in free-format and others that have the lyrical, rhythmic quality of a sonnet. Welch puts her whole self on the table in the stories she relays through essays and prose. As a foster carer, I was particularly moved by her experience with adoption, a theme that comes up on several occasions.
Narrator Jessica Bodreau did a great job - her voice was clear and the tone was consistent with the themes of the essays and poems. I appreciated the audio book version but understand the print of Swinging Bridge has accompanying photographs. However, I prefer to keep the pictures Welch has sketched in my mind for me as she relays the details of her life as a Swinging Bridge.