Reviews for Bridge of Sand

Booklist Reviews 2009 January #1
*Starred Review* By strange chance, her Pennsylvania senator husband s funeral takes place on 9/11 within site of the smoking wreckage of United 93. As the country goes into shock, Dana, 38, sheds her high-profile, low-satisfaction life, takes to the highway, and returns to a small Georgia town where she lived briefly as a teenager and harbored a crush on an African American co-worker. She and Cassius now fall wildly in love, but malevolent forces drive them apart. Fleeing to Florida s Gulf Coast, Dana soon finds herself tangled up in a web of shameful secrets, schemes, and betrayals. Burroway, known best for her popular creative-writng guides, revels in the beauty and dangers of hurricane country, where racial, class, and sexual conflicts surge and boil. With a possum in the kitchen, a snake in a piano, and a trailer-swallowing sinkhole, Dana, a brilliantly drawn character of conviction and adaptability, forges a surprising new identity. Suspense mingles with insight in this sensuous novel as Burroway reminds us that we can t extract ourselves from the wider world, that everything is always in flux, and that to survive, one must hold on to kindness, fairness, and love.

Kirkus Reviews 2009 January #2
A politician's widow rediscovers herself in the Deep South.Dana Cleveland buries her cancer-stricken husband on the morning of 9/11, mere miles from the United 93 crash site. She'd been intending to leave Graham before he got sick, and now she decides to leave the location of her unhappy marriage; Pennsylvania, she tells a friend, "is where I unbecame." In an unoriginal literary conceit, Dana returns to her deceased grandmother's small hometown in Georgia to "pick up the threads." There, she reconnects with Cassius Huston, an impressionable black man she barely knew when they worked together at the local grocery back in high school. The two fall quickly and incredulously in love. Burroway (Cutting Stone, 1992, etc.) has obvious literary chops, but there's not enough plot to keep the pages turning. The 9/11 imagery punctuates the narrative in a morbid, useless way. The romance has a sweet but weak premise, and the obstacles to Cassius and Dana's love tip toward melodramatic. When threatened by Cassius's family, Dana (who is white) flees to Cassius's estranged aunt in the Florida panhandle. Throughout her Southern venture, and while waiting around for the undependable Cassius to show up, Dana feels the black-white racial divide profoundly. Readers may feel that Barack Obama's presidential victory somewhat weakens the novel's major point: that overwhelming racism in the present-day United States prevents certain achievements. It's also a problem that Dana's ruminations, rather than compelling events, drive most of the story. It doesn't help that she and Cassius are rather tired protagonists with thinly evoked personalities. Thankfully, they are surrounded by spunkier characters, including Dana's sassy best friend and Cassius's evil but spirited kin. Still, the drama arrives too late, and the ending feels too abrupt.Neither excites nor inspires. Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Library Journal Reviews 2009 January #1

Dana is at a loss after burying her husband, a Pennsylvania senator, a few miles from the United 93 crash on 9/11. Her marriage had almost ended when Graham was diagnosed with cancer, and she nursed him to the end before beginning the task of selling her home. Originally from the South, she heads back to Georgia, aimlessly driving and thinking about her future. She decides to visit her grandmother's house, only to find it has been turned into a strip mall. Once again at loose ends, she looks up old friend Cassius Huston, and they begin an affair, which is problematic because she is white, and he is black. After receiving a vitriolic letter from his ex, Dana moves on, eventually heading west. Little does she realize that this move will lead to a life-changing event. Burroway, the author of Writing Fiction, among the most widely used creative writing texts in the country, crafts memorable characters while challenging readers' assumptions about race, love, and family. For fans of social issues novels.--Robin Nesbitt, Columbus Metropolitan Lib., OH

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2008 October #4

Burroway is best known for her textbook, Writing Fiction, but in this novel she demonstrates that even skillful writers can stumble. On September 11, 2001, Dana Cleveland sees a distant column of smoke through the window of the limousine carrying her to her husband's funeral. She'll later learn the smoke was from Flight 93, providing the first of many invocations of 9/11 that serve no purpose other than to undermine what would otherwise be a decent novel. Dana leaves Pennsylvania to revisit her roots, and while searching out her grandmother's home in Georgia, she hooks up with childhood infatuation Cassius Huston, who is black, separated from his wife, has a daughter and belongs to a large family who would not approve of Dana, who is white. When the wife threatens Dana, she flees to Pelican Bay, Fla., where she quickly becomes entrenched in the mostly working-class community and grapples with problems that test her in ways she's never anticipated. The complexities of Dana's and Cassius's relationship and of Pelican Bay are finely wrought, but Burroway's exploration of socioeconomic angst is marred by the novel's ghoulish references to 9/11. (Mar.)

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