The Other Side of the Bridge by Mary Lawson

We are far away in Northern Canada, in the small town of Struan. The life is rough, tough and simple. Or so it seems. We are in the years before, during and after World War 2, and we follow the lives of brothers Arthur and Jake, and Ian, son of the town’s respected doctor. Arthur is the older brother to Jake, and their relationship has been bad almost since before Jake was born. Arthur is the one who works hard and who does his chores without complaining and without asking why he has to them. Arthur thinks a lot, doesn’t talk much and hates going to school. Jake is the younger brother who is not all pleasant and nice. He doesn’t like to work, not too hard anyway, he is quick and smart and he grows up to be a regular ladies man. When World War 2 begins, neither of the brothers enlist, for different reasons, but they stay at home, while their friends go overseas to fight. Arthur devotes his time to farming and thinking and feeling guilty, while Jake seems to celebrate life by sleeping with as many girls as he can, drink and have fun. The brothers never really find each other, and specially Arthur is consumed by guilt and thoughts, until they are both grown up, and the high school kid Ian enters their world. Or enters Arthur’s world. Ian is at a point in his life where he needs to find out what he wants to do with the rest of it, and while thinking about this, he goes to work for Arthur on the farm he inherited from his parents. Jake is long gone, and life goes on in a quiet way. Until Jake suddenly surfaces again, and Ian senses that there is something more behind his visit than just feelings for the good ole family. The story moves between the childhood of Arthur and Jake over, their youth during World War 2 and the ‘present day’, which in this story is the 1950’es and 60’es. The story moves slowly, and much of the things happening, is happening in the minds of Arthur and Ian. The story moved a little too slow for this reader, but is wonderfully written, with good character-development and wonderful descriptions of nature, wind, weather etc.