Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer

The Invisible BridgeRating 3.5
The Invisible Bridge
A Novel by Julie Orringer

Audiobook narrarated by
Edoardo Ballerini
2012/ 12 hours 53 min

The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer was recommended to me by two friends back in 2011.  It has remained on my to-read shelf since then.  As I was going to be vacationing with them during Spring Break 2013, I decided to put it on the top of my to-listen shelf.

The book is about a Hungarian Jew and his family during the few years leading up to and through World War II.  The first half of the book is a coming of age romance that almost drove me crazy.  The head over heels, puppy love feeling of the first half of this book reminded me of the immature "romance" of the book Twilight. BLECH!  If I had not respected the opinions of my friends and others, I would have not stuck with the book.  (I will admit that I went back to the Goodreads site to check on something and noticed that several of my other friends had really loved this book).  So, despite the fact that the first half of the book is saturated with romance, I kept on listening.

Leaving out the romance, the first half of the book sets the stage for a very good; albeit, shocking story.  The author does a good job in the character building of the protagonist, Andras Levi, and his family and friends.  Even though the other characters are secondary to Andras' story, the reader is able to remember and recall each of the others and their own character traits.  The supporting cast was well drawn and as the story progressed it was amazing to see how the early character development blossomed into the story at a later time.

The second half of the book is almost all about the role the Hungarian Jews played in World War II through the life of Andras.  Gone from this portion of the book was the love-sick teenaged angst type romance so prevalent in the first half of the book.  The author wrote an amazing story showcasing the awful role of the Hungarians in World War II.  I found this portion of the book much more better written and I found that I did not mind continuing to listen to it.  At one point, I was even taking my i-pod to the gym and carrying it around with me while cleaning to listen to the ending.  The story was very well crafted and as I said before, the character building done in the first half of the book makes the second half much more enjoyable despite the dispicable and inhumane things going on during World War II.

Interestingly, I finished the novel HHhH by Laurent Binet recently.  It was about an SS officer in the Nazi party during World War II.  It was fascinating to hear the same facts about the war in both books.

The best part of the book was the ending.  So often it seems as if the author is tired of writing and just throws together something that will satisfy his publisher leaving the reader astonished as such a poor ending for such an otherwise good book.  Julie Orringer should be commended for a very well written ending.  It is obvious that she took her time and ensured that every piece was in its place before added the final period.  The ending was not nice and pretty tied up with a pink ribbon either, but well crafted and thought out.  I don't know how much of the story was based on actual people and history and how much of it was fiction, but the line between the two is so faint that I could not tell.

I enjoyed The Invisible Bridge and am glad I read it; however, I was never blown away nor connected with the characters in the way others have seemed to.  There were many times, especially in the first half of the book that I wanted to stop listening.  I wish it had been edited a bit better to remove some of the less important aspects so the book would not have bogged down in parts.