Although The Bridge between “Cell Block A” and a “Miracle” Is Psalm 91 is based on the true story of a man who was arrested on a felony murder charge after accidentally killing another man, it is really a book-length prayer of praise and thanksgiving. Author Jackie Carpenter details ten months in the life of her family when her son was arrested and tried for murder. There is no mystery, since the reader knows from the start that her son, Jason, was acquitted.
Most books fit into a classification, which makes it easier for the reviewer since the groundwork has been laid. The Bridge is not so easily classified, for if it were reviewed as a “true crime” story, it would receive very poor reviews. Yet as one woman’s testimony to her faith, the role of God in her life, and how belief in the Bible saw her through one of life’s worst experiences, The Bridge is powerful.
The Bridge is a Christian book, and is unlikely to be read and enjoyed by a large non-Christian readership. Jackie Carpenter is not an accomplished author whose virtuoso style will dazzle all readers. She is a woman who offers a narrative so personal, it is painful. Her writing style is nearly stream-of-consciousness; it’s as if you met with her and she told you her story all at once. What separates her from other storytellers is her unrockable Christian faith.
The Bible and religion are fixed features in Jackie Carpenter’s life and that of her family. The strength she drew from them, she shared with others. This would not work for everyone, since we aren’t always surrounded by like-minded people (no matter what inspiration we want to share). Carpenter’s tale is so subjective, though, it reveals a lack of knowledge about some legal proceedings and an overabundance of faith in human beings to the point of naivete. I, too, would like to believe that people will always do the right thing and that there’s no reason they shouldn’t, but I’m not surprised when they don’t. I’m seldom surprised by the reasons they don’t.
The Bridge includes copies of newspaper headlines, family photographs, copies of Bible passages, and many quotes from the Book of Psalms. It serves not only as praise, but as a source of strength for those in spiritual need. For believers, sometimes it’s necessary to be pointed in the right direction. The Bridge does that. Carpenter drew spiritual strength during a crisis and instructs others where they, also, can find it.
Jackie Carpenter believes in God’s promises and that God will keep those promises. Non-believers will doubt that anything but the facts presented at trial was responsible for Jason’s acquittal. Not all believers would agree that God takes such a personal interest in every person or that petitioning God with prayer will produce the desired results. Carpenter and her family do, and The Bridge is her joyful testament to the power of the Lord. Readers may find that it is more a testament to the power of faith.
The Bridge is a book for people who believe in miracles. It is also for people who need to be reminded that during troubling times, God is not the guilty party. Even devout Christians sometimes need to be reminded that their strength is in the Lord, and The Bridge serves as that reminder. I cannot recommend it to everyone, but those who believe and are in need will find inspiration in Jackie Carpenter’s story.
Bottom Line: Would I buy The Bridge? No. I tend not to read this genre.