cover image The Bridge to Nowhere

The Bridge to Nowhere

Megan McDonald. Orchard Books (NY), $15.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-531-05478-9

Despite this first novel's firm sense of place--Pittsburgh--its grasp on time, narrative structure and characterization remains rather shaky. A pivotal event, in which protagonist Hallie's father ``flies'' his car from an unfinished bridge across the Allegheny River, is--according to a note in the text--based on an actual incident in 1964. McDonald does practically nothing to anchor the story in that period. She sets the scene for a problem novel rife with dramatic possibilities--embittered unemployed father, mother struggling to support the family, older sister with dark secret, a seventh-grader's first love--but she constantly misses the payoffs. Her troubled family is miraculously fine again after Hallie's father suffers amnesia following his car stunt, Shelley has only to sniffle a little to be straightened out, and Hallie's fears of physical intimacy with older admirer Crane melt away with a mere hug. Lack of a satisfying resolution makes this an uncompelling read. Ages 11-up. (Apr.)