Tuesday, August 4, 2009

"The Last Bridge"

Teri Coyne is an alumna of New York University. In addition to writing fiction, Coyne wrote and performed stand-up comedy for many years. She divides her time between New York City and the North Fork of Long Island.

She applied the “Page 69 Test” to The Last Bridge, her first novel, and reported the following:
Page 69 of The Last Bridge finds the main character, Alex “Cat” Rucker remembering an incident from her past where her father, in a fit of drunken rage, blackens her eye by smashing it into a plate of pie during a family meal. In this opening scene, Cat considers leaving home for good. In addition to wanting to get away from her abusive father, she is torn about her feelings for Addison, the son of her father’s best friend who has been staying with the family. With nowhere to go, she returns home and finds Addison weeding her mother’s flower beds and her family gone. A note, left by her mother on her bed explains they have gone to dinner.

These six short paragraphs are representative of the tension in this story. The relationship between Cat and her mother is strained, at best. Her mother is most comfortable leaving notes and avoiding real conversation, so instead of standing up to the father’s mistreatment of his daughter she goes to dinner with him and leaves Cat alone with Addison to scrounge for herself. While there is an undeniable attraction between Cat and Addison, she is trepidatious and weary of all men. This chapter establishes a bond between Cat and Addison that changes the course of Cat’s life. Does it change for the better? Read the book and decide for yourself.

I went to school the next day with a black eye. No one suspected anything was wrong; cuts and bruises were a regular part of being a Rucker kid. People assumed we played hard.

I told Nell that I would walk home. I wanted to be by myself and wasn’t in a big hurry to get back. I thought a lot about leaving for good that day and toyed with the idea of getting a bus ticket for New York and just taking off. The more I thought about it, the happier it made me. There was no reason to stay. Going home would mean facing my father, who would act like it was my fault for getting between him and his pie, and Addison, who would... God, what was I thinking?

Addison was weeding my mother’s flower beds when I came up the drive. He had made good on his warning to get up early. His truck was gone by the time I woke up. On the days he worked at his grandma’s he was usually home by late afternoon.

“Where’s the fire?” He sat back on his heels and waved his small garden shovel at me as I hurried past.

I went through the side door and up the stairs to my room. The house was empty. There was a note on my bed from my mother.


Went to supper with Dad and Wendy. Jared is at football practice. There’s leftover macaroni in the fridge.

Mom xxxooo
Read an excerpt from The Last Bridge, and learn more about the book and author at Teri Coyne's website and blog.

Visit the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue