Here Lies Bridget by Paige Harbison, published by Mira Ink www.miraink.co.uk
Bridget Duke is the uncontested ruler of her school. The meanest girl with the biggest secret insecurities. And when 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 wronged 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….
Here’s the scoop:
Bridget Duke is your typical Queen Bee. She’s the mean but beautiful girl with a seemingly perfect existence. Her secure place in the social ranks of her elite high school hinges upon the fear her classmates have that Bridget will make their lives a living hell if they don’t do as she says. She’s a bully—not in the typical lunch stealing, beating up the weaker kids kind of way, but in her underhanded comments, in the way she pressures her friends, and in her total willingness to step on anyone who may question her.
Bridget’s life of self-love hangs in the balance when she’s in a serious car accident. Hovering somewhere between life and death, Bridget faces five people who have seen her at her absolute worst (and who aren’t necessarily appreciative of her narcissistic ways). They ask that she step into their shoes and see herself as they do. She witnesses every terrible thing she’s done to them—often cringing at her own words, but unable to change a thing— and feels the pain caused by her actions. Ultimately, the question of whether or not Bridget survives the car accident is left in the hands of these people.
Wow, Bridget is an awful girl. She torments even those she claims to love, and as such, she’s a very difficult girl to like. At times, it’s hard to understand why anyone would like her because she is that mean. Harbison spends much of the story laying the groundwork to establish how truly nasty Bridget is and sometimes it’s painful to watch (though it’s obviously intended to be).
I was slightly disappointed because by the time Bridget faces her five deliberators the book is more than halfway over. While the time spent seeing life through the eyes of the others is a creative twist, it would have been so much more fulfilling to see more of Bridget’s journey after she witnesses how her terrible behavior affects those around her; to see how difficult it could be to earn the trust and forgiveness of her friends. Exploring that facet of the process would have made this story complete.
On the upside, Harbison’s writing is concise and her message is solid. The story is lighter and more whimsical than other books dealing with similar topics (such as the incredible Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver), but it still gets the point across.
I loved that Bridget had to walk in the shoes of the other characters to the point that she felt the pain inflicted upon them in her carelessness. There were also a couple of characters I really liked, especially her ex-boyfriend, Liam, who was sweet and swoonworthy in his undying belief that there was goodness still buried somewhere inside of Bridget. And we get the opportunity to see that Liam was right, but I would have loved to have known that Bridget a little better.
Crush Intensity: I struggled to rate this one. On one hand, I tore through the story quickly because it was engaging. On the other hand, at times it felt like a teenage version of A Christmas Carol. Overall I didn’t love the book, but I thought it had some redeeming qualities and a good message. I’m eager to see more from this author.
Special Acknowledgement: Thank you to Mira Ink and to Paige Harbison for sending us a copy of this book and for inviting us to be a part of their blog tour!