cover image To the Bridge: A True Story of Motherhood and Murder

To the Bridge: A True Story of Motherhood and Murder

Nancy Rommelmann. Little A, $24.95 (338p) ISBN 978-1-5420-4842-2

“I wondered whether looking into the murder of a child by its mother was like staring into a prism in your hand: the more you turned it, the more possibilities beam back,” journalist Rommelmann (Bad Mothers) writes in this true account of a mother who killed her four-year-old son. In the early hours of May 23, 2009, Amanda Stott-Smith took her son, Eldon, and his seven-year-old sister, Trinity, to the Sellwood Bridge in Portland, Ore., and pushed them over the railing. They fell over 90 feet before hitting the water: Eldon died, Trinity survived. The author, who lives in Portland, attended Stott-Smith’s May 26 arraignment and spent the next seven years researching the case. She explores the personal circumstances­ that could have led Stott-Smith, who is serving a 35-year sentence, to commit such a crime, such as the end of her marriage and losing custody of her children. Rommelmann writes about the devastating effect of the murder on Gavin, Stott-Smith’s son from a previous relationship. Stott-Smith’s grandmother Jackie Dreiling sums up the question on everyone’s mind: “How do you understand the not understandable and forgive the unforgiveable?” Rommelmann employs compassion and emotional honesty in her investigation to try to comprehend the motivations behind the crime and its aftermath, helping readers understand the implications, if not the answer, to Dreiling’s question. (June)