But it shouldn’t surprise anyone to learn there is oh so much more to Niagara.
With this in mind, dk LeVick opens the door to the history and lore of all that is Niagara.
The tale opens as a firefighter slowly makes his way towards the falls to render aide during a natural phenomenon that occurs at the Falls. From time to time the river below the falls freezes forming a natural “ice bridge” that allows the brave, or foolish, to walk out literally to the base of the falls. The firefighter is investigating reports of people on the ice when,….
It turns out several young boys, all residents of the area embarked on a winter adventure below the falls.
The members of this rag tag crew decided the best way to make their mark and to preserve their place in Niagara’s history is to accomplish a feat worthy of a spot on the wall of fame at the local café where the history of Niagara is told through photographs.
What better way to get their photo on the wall than by venturing out onto a rare ice bridge and capturing the moment on film? A quick trip down for one picture and the boys place in history is ensured.
If only reality was as simple as conceived by the adolescent mind.
Set in the early 1960’s, Levick uses the boy’s adventures to escort the reader on a trip through Niagara’s fascinating history by using a series of flashbacks to paint the picture of the Falls’ colorful and amazing past.
Those who have traveled to the Falls will recall seeing a small island that divides the American and Canadian Falls. The island, Goat Island it is called, has a history all its own centered around a reclusive soul who once called the island home. Thus the reader learns about the Hermit of Goat Island.
Another flash back touches on the history of the honeymoon or “honey-lunacy” the tradition was first called. In 1848, two couples travel to Niagara to celebrate their respective marriages. During their stay the falls runs dry leading to a chain of events that one would have never expected.
Bridges is full of unexpected flashbacks such as these making the book so much more than a tale of the less than well developed plan of a group of boys.
However, the major theme of the book is that of the bridge. Through the book, bridges become the touchstone for literally every major event.
LeVick gets a lot into the book. Given the time period and his unique way of revisiting the past, he is able to deal with a number of themes that would otherwise be difficult to tackle. Racism, slavery, coming of age, parent/child relationships and the general and life’s ever-present balance of right and wrong are all woven together in surprisingly effective fashion.
I’m often skeptical when I see an author tackle too many lofty themes and I will say that I was initially a touch confused when the story was broken up with the first flashback after what I would describe as a very compelling start. However, the rhythm and pace of the story is quickly established and the fabric of the story is woven together in a way that ties the past together with the present making the flashbacks a pleasant twist.
LeVick has a gift for dialogue, particularly with the boys who are the central characters. Even though he is dealing with adolescents, he does a very effective job of capturing the personalities of his characters as they grow through the story. His dialogue also shines in capturing nuances in the language and speech patterns covering more than 150 years of cultural change.
Perhaps the most enjoyable part of the story is how LeVick leaves a trail of literary breadcrumbs through the novel that he assembles at the end of the tale leaving the reader quite satisfied and, at least for this reviewer, quite impressed.
Bridges is an easy and enjoyable read that I would recommend for someone looking for an interesting and engaging tale. In particular fans of historical fiction will find this book interesting as so much of the less known past of Niagara is told throughout the book’s story.