Here Lies Bridget by Paige Harbison
Genre: YA, Coming of Age
Paranormal Element: Death
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Not quite as paranormal as my usual fair, I was thinking this was going to be a bit darker than what it was, but I don’t regret reading this one. For, one I have to say that this is a novel that I feel most people can relate to. The main character, Bridget, plays both the role of antagonist and protagonist, because really she is her own worst enemy. I could place myself in Bridget’s shoes and I could place myself in her victim’s shoes also. It was quite an eye opener, because on the surface I really didn’t like her, but doesn’t everyone deserve a second chance?

Bridget Duke rules the private school she attends. She rules it not by popularity or affability – she is a dictator and rules by sheer power. She rules with an iron and mean fist and people fawn over her. She can’t be wrong, she can’t be overshadowed and she can’t be outdone. Things haven’t been going her way lately, though. Her boyfriend broke up with her, her best-friends are acting oddly defiant and the teachers are standing up to her.

When her world begins crashing down around her, Bridget jumps in her car, speeds off and crashes it. Brought before a board – the people she’s wronged throughout life stand there to judge her. Will they give her the chance that she desperately needs to turn things around and make things right, or will they have no mercy and allow her to die?

This seemed, from the synopsis, like a more surreal novel than what it actually was. In essence this was a retrospective of a few weeks in a teenage girl’s life. The final days of her life that were very tragically on a downward turn. Bridget isn’t a very nice girl, the things she does are reprehensible and had me hating her. But, that was the point, you weren’t supposed to like Bridget. While all this was going on you could see the jumps…the reasoning, the method, so to speak, behind her madness. While on the outside I cringed at every thing she did, I also internalized and realized that at some point I had acted out of jealousy, or spite, or snark and could have taken things out of hand much like Bridget did, especially as a teenager.

The gem of this novel was the fact that it showed the consequences of her actions and the hurt it inflicted on those that she insulted, or lied to, or passively aggressively attacked. It was a great lesson learn novel.

What did bring this rating down was that I have read plots like this before. A second chance novel, there just weren’t three ghosts in this one. Paired with the unoriginal plot was the stereo-typical high-school life. The novel had cliche’ after cliche’ of teen life and drama, much of which I expect in a made for Disney TV movie, but always hope in a YA novel that it transcends a bit out of that generalization. I do believe that high schools are ripe with the jocks and the nerds and the pretty girls, but life really is never so black and white as they make it seem in some of these YA novels. More so, with Here Lies Bridget. Bridget being the a-typical mean-girl, blond and perfect with a wicked, sadistic streak. She was paired with the sweet, but shy hottie and the dumb gossip side-kicks and her ex was the super hot football player. But, besides the unoriginal plot and the stereo-typical high-school scene the novel was well written and had a wonderful hidden message. I highly recommend this for you or your favorite teen and I’ll be looking forward to reading more of Harbison’s writing. Just because they keep on retelling Romeo and Juliet doesn’t mean we don’t like to keep reading it, right?

There is some strong language that might give parents a pause, but I’m pretty sure that it is nothing worse than they hear from their peers. Recommended for younger and mature teens.