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Reviewed by Natasha Jackson for Readers' Favorite
Bridgetown High is the story of seventeen-year-old Mark Wilkerson who just lost his parents and a sister in a fatal Christmas Eve car crash where he and another sister were the only survivors - and he has no memory of the crash. There are clues, flashes of memory, but he can’t remember all the details so soon after the incident. Sent to live with his grandmother and start over at a new high school, Mark has to grapple with bullies, revenge, drugs, and pretty much your standard high school drama. Author Paul West does a good job of handling the gravity of Mark’s situation and the fact that he’s a teenage boy.
With a pretty big emphasis on forgiveness, Bridgetown High is at its heart a mystery that unfolds over the course of the novel. What I liked most was watching the pieces come together for Mark about that night because I’m a sucker for a good whodunit and the way Paul West set each scene was fantastic. The 1960s setting was described beautifully and gave an aura of innocence to a pretty dark story. What I enjoyed less was the focus on the high school minutiae, although it did enhance the story and help the reader understand Mark and his feelings. There were plenty of moments of rage, guilt, and vengeance, and West executed them beautifully. Bridgetown High is an emotional read that at times reaches beyond its Young Adult roots to pull in readers of all ages. Without giving anything away, I will say the ending left me feeling surprised and mostly fulfilled.