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Reviews

A Bridge Named Susan
by Sharon Chase Hoseley
Xlibris
reviewed by Joe Kilgore

“This is the bridge I’ve longed to be—the bridge between generations, spanning not just changes, inventions, and experiences, but living relationships.”

Every life is a story, but it takes an excellent storyteller to make the journey of a lifetime memorable. Fortunately, author Hoseley is such a storyteller. Her life of the indefatigable Susan is a trip you’ll remember for some time.

The year is 1910 and the setting is a prairie farm in Idaho. Writing in Susan’s voice, with prose and dialogue that is admiringly restrained yet unflinchingly descriptive, we share Susan’s life with her mother, father, older brother and younger sister. The mother is an older, colder woman. The father is more demonstrative and understanding. Hoseley imbues each of these characters and those that follow with a plainspoken honesty. No false notes or overwriting turn them from characters to caricatures.

The plot is disarmingly straightforward. It is simply Susan’s life filled with joy, sorrow, accomplishment, disappointment, fear, heartache, love, loss, rebirth, and more. While anchored in Idaho, the story spans from the plains to the mountains and from the farms to the cities. It involves her with people who are good, bad, weak, strong, selfish, and loving. Most of all, it shows us a woman bowed but never broken, and staggered but never beaten when times are hard, conditions harsh, and life seems more a burden than a gift.

There is a constant in Susan’s story, as well. It is her deep and abiding belief in God. A belief that helps see her and her loved ones through the most difficult of days. Infused throughout the narrative, it neither proselytizes nor moralizes. It simply provides a source of strength for Susan, and, perhaps, for readers, too.

 


A Bridge Named Susan
by Sharon Chase Hoseley
Publisher: XlibrisUS
ISBN: 978-1-5245-9033-8
Pages: 220
Genre: Non-fiction, Family
Reviewed by: Susan Brown

A strong woman’s trust in God is the bridge that helps her stay connected to her parents, her siblings and her husband through a life fraught with one challenge after another in this story of faith and family in this period-piece novel titled A Bridge Named Susan by author Sharon Chase Hoseley. Susan, a child born into a hardscrabble existence in the early 1900s in an untamed spot in Idaho, is caught between a mean-spirited mother and a brutal brother as she struggles with her longing to know that she is loved.

In spite of the many misfortunes Susan faces in this narrative, this is a heartwarmingly, touching story. I am captivated by the personal stories that open the door to a different era or place, that gives me a peek into a life so unlike how we live nowadays. It was inspiring to witness a tenacious and tender woman fight for the type of life she wants with such grace, fortitude and dignity.

It’s hard to imagine a more difficult beginning for a child. From a very young age, Susan tries diligently to be the good girl. At three she was feeding chickens and by age five she was scrubbing clothes on the washboard, hand-scrubbing floors, weeding, gathering eggs, picking berries, setting the table and making the beds, all in an effort to get three words out of her mother, “I love you.” It was to no avail. That love was reserved for her brother, the person who would be good at running a farm, a good hand to have around.

She found joy in caring for her little sister, eight years her junior, another girl her mother did not want, and she felt secure in the arms of her sweet Papa. But it was her mother’s love she craved, a yearning that regularly tested her faith in God. Susan marries, believing that by sharing her heart with her husband Tom, she would create that bond she craved. She tries through every test that comes her way — acute poverty, clearing 15 acres of pine for a place to live, living in a tent through a freezing winter, surviving the Great Depression, evading the unwanted attention of an abusive father-in-law and dealing with the Tom’s silent treatment when he’s angry. She never complains, except to God. She never adopts the attitude of a victim. She never stops believing in God’s grace to help her through the tough times.

Ms. Hoseley’s writing is captivating. This is a book that makes you want to curl up in a quiet corner and read from beginning to end. The people whom she writes about comes alive on the page; you feel their joy and sadness, you are immersed in their struggles and you want to see how Susan find’s that bridge she’s searching for. She does. What she discovers, by staying true to her faith, is the strength and courage to trust in God with all of her heart, to lean on Him and know that He will never forsake her.

“A Bridge Named Susan” is full of powerful moments anyone can use to strengthen themselves during times of hardship. I will keep this book as a reminder that when life gets tough, there is always a way to keep going.

A Bridge Named Susan

A Bridge Named Susan