Bridge to Haven – Francine Rivers
All Abra wants is love. She was abandoned by her mother at birth, left under a bridge to die. Her adoptive mother died of a weak heart and her adoptive father gave her up to another family. She seems to live in the shadow of her sister, the biological daughter of her adoptive parents. So when a boy gives her all the wrong kinds of attention, she falls hard and fast, swept up in the whirlwind of his affection. But then it all goes wrong. Abra’s not one to give up. With the help of a strict and demanding agent, she transforms into Lena Scott: B movie actress with the potential to become one of the greats. She’s loved and adored as Lena but Abra still hasn’t found the love she wants.
Meanwhile, the town of Haven mourns the loss of one of their most treasured children. Most of the town eventually moves on, but Pastor Ezekiel Freeman and his son, Joshua, won’t give up on Abra. He was the one who found her under the bridge, who gave her up reluctantly because he couldn’t care for a small girl as a single pastor. Joshua, who serves as both her big brother and best friend grows up with conflicted feelings for her that just won’t go away. When Abra resurfaces as Lena Scott, he takes off in search of her.
Bridge to Haven is a powerful coming of age, or rather, coming to life, tale. Abra feels unloved and abandoned by everyone important in her life and struggles with her own sense of identity and self-worth. Her struggle may be more extreme than most, but I’m certain any reader can resonate with her feelings of rejection. I’ve seen more than one individual seek out love in all the wrong places and end up as used and abused as Abra. Turning her into movie star Lena Scott only serves to contrast the vapidity and hollowness of fame. To others, she has everything they could ever want. Yet, behind closed doors, she is more desperate for love than ever. The novel also carries some poignant historical themes. Rivers carries readers back to the 1940s and 50s in a way that is refreshing and enlightening.
It’s a classic story of the prodigal, writ slightly differently than as told by Jesus but with the same clear themes. The novel is a journey through Abra’s life that cuts through the reader’s soul, rending it while reminding of God’s redeeming love. Abra’s journey is our journey—the one in which we try to be “somebody,” in which we seek after love. The great human desire to be known. And what Bridge to Haven reminds us is that there is a God that knows us inside and out and searches out after us.
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