Reviewed by: Susan Williams
There are tobacco-chewing ladies, and old men who run around at night stealing underwear off clotheslines. There are moon pies and strawberry sodas. There are great mysteries created by antics with a potato gun, nudists who never pull their shades down, a pony with an extreme case of gas, and boys who go through intricate gyrations just to get a piece of the best pie at the church social.
Family, neighbors and friends relate, cope, and grow together. There are fishing trips, a carnival, everyday dramas on the schoolbus, a first kiss, first money-making experiences for enterprising kids, and much more.
It’s a coming-of-age story in which the narrator, a sixth-grade boy, describes how the whole town pulls together during times of tragedy and comedy alike. Interaction between the generations influences kids for the good. Looming over the action is the reality of the Vietnam War, and its many consequences.
Outside town, there’s a peaceful, lovely bridge over a stream. It’s a metaphor for the connections and transitions that mark life anywhere, but particularly in a small town in rural America.
The Bridge is a nostalgic novel by Stan Crader, a lifelong resident of Bollinger County in southeast Missouri just north of the Boot Heel. Though the action takes place in his hometown of Marble Hill, it’s universal. If you grew up anywhere in the country, you’ll find yourself smiling and nodding in recognition during the many humorous episodes in this book. The funniest thing about the characters is that you know the author didn’t even have to make them up.
“I wanted this book to be a bridge to the readers’ own memories,” Crader said. “The biggest compliment is for someone to tell me, ‘Somebody in the book reminded me of someone I knew growing up.’”
Crader, who runs a Stihl outdoor power equipment distributorship and is also a private pilot, said that his characters are all composites. But his hometown friends couldn’t believe it. So they made up a spreadsheet, “The Mystery List,” to try to decipher who was REALLY who in the book. At one of his local book signings, a retired lunch lady from the local school revealed that the book had made her laugh so much, she had regained her voice after having had a stroke.
Crader said the small-town touches are endless in his life: he’s proud to have the nickname of “407” at the local McDonald’s. Why? Because $4.07 is the cost of the lunch that he always orders. So when he comes in, a staff member will cry out, “Here comes 407!” Now, THAT’S a small town.
Crader is donating proceeds of the book to (various charities). The book is available through any retail or online bookstore. Autographed copies are available from Crader for $20, shipping included, or $15 per copy for orders of two or more. A sequel, Paperboy, was published in 2010.
Since publication of my first book The Bridge, net proceeds of book sales have been donated to charity. Proceeds have benefited Young Life, Mid-American Teen Challenge, Melaina’s Playland, local museums, libraries, and others.
Once again, all net proceeds will be directed to Resurrecting Lives Foundation. RLF is a foundation focused aiding veterans suffering from traumatic brain injuries.
I hope you enjoy the books and thanks for supporting so our troops with your purchase.