Monday, November 26, 2012

Under the Bridge (review)

3.5/5 stars

Tate and Indy Brooks aren't the luckiest kids.  They don't live in the suburbs but they don't live in the bad part of town either.  They live in the buffer zone between the suburbs and poverty, not quite existing in either.   Their father is a bit of a hard ass.  He works hard and so should you.  That's his mentality and he has trouble understanding any other perspective. Tate and Indy spend their days skating Under the Bridge, the local skate park.

Tate's a bit rough around the edges, always on the edge of a fight.  Normally he's fighting for good -- standing up to bullies, getting repayment when someone breaks a friend's board, etc--but still fighting doesn't exactly make in a stand-up rule following sort of guy. But he's still a good guy, despite his tendency to throw punches.

His brother Indy is another story.  He's intelligent but a screw-up.  Where Tate at least tries to stay in the right, Indy smarts off, smokes pot and does whatever.  He means well but does wrong.

The strength of Under The Bridge is Tate, who is a believable main character with a strong voice.  I liked Tate and all his imperfections.  Tate's self-awareness was endearing.  He'd beat people up, then two days later apologize because he realized that even if he was partially right, he went about it the wrong way.  He's a main character who wants to do good but doesn't always know how.

Under the Bridges biggest weakness is that it drags.   It spends over 50% of the novel before really getting into the nitty gritty of the plot.  Some of this helps build the characters and leads into the story, but mostly it's just too long winded and something needed to be cut.

During a typical family fight, their father kicks Indy out for disrespecting him and their mother.  It's one of those heat-of-the-moment things.  Their father loves them both, but his methods don't work especially where Indy is concerned.  Living on the street Indy falls in with a bad crowd.  Having already lost one friend to drugs, Tate refuses to lose his brother to that world. The heart of this book is Tate trying any way he can to save Indy. He tries on his own, he tries with help. He fights for his brother even when his brother doesn't deserve it.

I liked that story but think the book should've gotten there much sooner.  I cared about Tate so in turn I cared about his quest to save Indy.  Even though Indy was frustrating at times, Tate's brotherly love overpowers any misgivings so I had to root for Indy as well.

The ending went a little Disneyfied for me.  Also I had trouble suspending my disbelief where law enforcement was concerned in this novel.  But overall it's a good story with a lot going for it.  I like the gritty urban setting and Tate as a main character, those two elements carried the novel for me.

I received an ARC of this book through Netgalley

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