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….(From Goodreads.com)
Here Lies Bridget made it onto my wishlist because of it’s seemingly similarity to Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall, so I was especially happy to receive a copy from the publisher for review. Reading it proved that while there may be a vague similarity to the aforementioned book of awesome, Here Lies Bridget definitely stands up on it’s own as something different too and personally I loved it. However I think this is a book that may divide opinion and can see it being a case of either love it or loathe it, particular where main character Bridget is concerned.
What I really liked about the book was how brave Paige Harbison was in making her lead character so utterly detestable. Seriously, there’s nothing redeeming about her character at all for most of the book. She’s an all out mean girl but you know, I kind of loved to hate her. So someone who says exactly what they think without any care or tact isn’t someone you’d want to be around, I still couldn’t help admire some of the things she had the audacity to say. Does that make me horrible? Possibly, but I guess we’ve all had situations where we’ve just wanted to say it as it is or had mean, nasty thoughts in our heads. Bridget just actually comes right out with them. And she knows she’s a bitch too. No matter how much I wouldn’t want to be friends with this girl, she was fun to read about.
I really thought Paige Harbison got Bridget’s desperation to stay top dog and most popular girl spot on, and boy was she desperate. As everything falls apart you can feel Bridget’s panic and bewilderment. While the build up to the pivotal moment in Bridget’s demise was great reading, the second part of this book where she literally has to walk a mile in the shoes of the people she’s terrorised is fantastic, I loved it. I especially liked how this doesn’t turn into soppy journey of self discovery and redemption on Bridget’s part either, there’s a little bit about why she ended up being so awful but it’s not enough to make you pity or understand her. No, we get to see the knock on effect of the others, the book becomes about the victims not the bully and I thought that was very clever. It’s almost like the contemptible Bridget is just a vehicle to get to know these other people and it’s with them that your sympathies will lie.
There were a couple of things I thought could have made the book better. Anna Judge, the mysterious new girl at school could have been better explained and expanded upon. I also thought Bridget’s relationship with her father should have been more important than it actually was portrayed. Other than that I really liked this book. If you can’t stand unlikable characters in your reading, then this is probably not for you. If you fancy something really different and enjoy a bit of loving to hate with a couple of interesting twists then I’d say give this one a go. I found it a quick enjoyable read and would certainly look out for more from this author in the future.
Published in the UK by Mira Ink June 2011
Many thanks to the publishers for sending a copy for review.