The Last Bridge - Teri Coyne "This is how you justify your choices?"

NOTE: I received this book as part of the Amazon Vine Program

Book two from my Vine program, this one is quite the departure from the mystery, The Night Watchman.
Alex "Cat" returns to the place of her birth at her mother's suicide. There she receives her mother's suicide note addressed to Alex: "He's not what you think." Slowly, we unearth Cat's tragic childhood and learn about her present situation--and see that Alex has a choice: to move on or stay in the past.
(I shall try to use "Alex" to refer to the adult woman and "Cat" to her adolescent self)

I Liked:
Rape, sexual abuse, and domestic violence aren't pretty subjects. They are not pleasant to read. But somehow, Coyne put a great effort into "The Last Bridge", making it accessible to those repulsed by the atrocities the father commits. We go inside Cat, the victim of abuse. We feel her raw emotions, and we feel how Cat dies inside, as the violence continues. We learn how she retreats into drawing, how she comes alive at Addison's touch, and how her biggest dream is to leave Wilton forever. Coyne makes Cat (particularly in her childhood) pop out of the page and into real life. Although the other characters are secondary and flat, this only helps focus on Alex/Cat (the protagonist even mentions in the book how selfishly one-sided she has been, only seeing the situation from her view where her father was the villain).
As I read further and , I ceased to be the reader. I became a spectator, an eyewitness. I was there in Wilton, Ohio, driving with Alex as she returned to her home. I was there when Cat and Addison first meet. I saw his auburn hair, his freckles. I was there at their dance, feeling the breath of fresh air. I was there with Cat as her father forced her to "walk the plank": to cross a dangerous bridge in a storm. This isn't an easy job, yet Coyne does it beautifully. And she continues to keep your interest with her superb writing, her carefully crafted mystery (which really isn't a mystery, more like a "redemption"), and her slipping from the present to the past.

I Didn't Like:
The novel starts out terribly slow. I almost reached the point where I was going to stop, but I somehow pushed forward.
The subject matter is very heavy, so many readers, who would enjoy Coyne's writing style and narration, will be turned off by the content. It isn't the novel you necessarily read on a nice summer day at the beach. It deals with serious emotions, serious circumstances, and serious crimes. This came as quite the surprise, as I got the impression from the back of the book that there was more of a mystery, and not an unveiling of the past.
I had trouble believing that an alcoholic would be so thin. On one hand, I could understand it, because he/she doesn't eat healthy; on the other, alcohol is loaded with empty calories. (Ultimately, it didn't hurt my perception of the book.)
In the beginning, Alex wasn't a very open character for me. I was confused, wondering why this woman walked around drunk all the time.

Dialogue/Sexual Situations/Violence:
Alex/Cat is fond of the f-word, though I was pleasantly surprised to see it used sparingly, only when dramatic emotion was needed. D***, h***, b****, and b*****d also appear. Her father employs the c-word once.
The center point of this novel is the sexual abuse that Cat receives in her childhood. There are many scenes dedicated to this and while not exactly explicit, conjure despair, agony, and other painful emotions. This is not a book for children or teenagers.
Furthermore, Cat's father is abusive. On numerous occasions, he sexually assaults her, gives her black eyes, and, at one point, breaks her leg in three places. This doesn't include his abuse of her mother, at one point, chopping off the tip of the mother's left ring finger to "teach her a lesson".

I started out not liking the book. It was slow. It was confusing. Alex was a mystery. Then, as the story progressed, I didn't want to like it. It was harsh. It was not nice. It pulled you in places that weren't comfortable. But I did anyway. Coyne wrote a story that was, despite it's meaty topic, beautiful.