Bridge to Haven  -     By: Francine Rivers
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Bridge to Haven

Tyndale House / 2014 / Hardcover

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To those who matter in 1950s Hollywood, Lena Scott is the hottest rising star to hit the silver screen since Marilyn Monroe. Few know her real name is Abra. Even fewer know the price she's paid to finally feel like she's somebody. To Pastor Ezekiel Freeman, Abra will always be the little girl who stole his heart the night he found her, a wailing newborn abandoned under a bridge on the outskirts of Haven, a sleepy little town in Northern California. Zeke and his son, Joshua-Abra's closest friend-watch her grow into an exotic beauty. But Zeke knows the circumstances surrounding her birth etched scars deep in her heart, scars that leave her vulnerable to a fast-talking bad boy who proclaims his love and lures her to Tinseltown. Hollywood feels like a million miles from Haven, and naive Abra quickly learns what's expected of an ambitious girl with stars in her eyes. But fame comes at a devastating price. She has burned every bridge to get exactly what she thought she wanted. Now, all she wants is a way back home.

Product Information

Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 500
Vendor: Tyndale House
Publication Date: 2014
Dimensions: 9.00 X 6.00 (inches)
ISBN: 1414368186
ISBN-13: 9781414368184
Availability: In Stock

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Publisher's Description

To those who matter in 1950s Hollywood, Lena Scott is the hottest rising star to hit the silver screen since Marilyn Monroe. Few know her real name is Abra. Even fewer know the price she’s paid to finally feel like she’s somebody.

To Pastor Ezekiel Freeman, Abra will always be the little girl who stole his heart the night he found her, a wailing newborn abandoned under a bridge on the outskirts of Haven. Zeke and his son, Joshua—Abra’s closest friend—watch her grow into an exotic beauty. But Zeke knows the circumstances surrounding her birth etched scars deep in her heart, scars that leave her vulnerable to a fast-talking bad boy who proclaims his love and lures her to Tinseltown. Hollywood feels like a million miles from Haven, and naive Abra quickly learns what’s expected of an ambitious girl with stars in her eyes. But fame comes at an awful price. She has burned every bridge to get exactly what she thought she wanted. Now, all she wants is a way back home.

In this riveting and highly anticipated tale of temptation, grace, and unconditional love, New York Times best-selling author Francine Rivers delivers big-canvas storytelling at its very best.

Editorial Reviews

This is a book you won’t want to miss and won’t soon forget. It’s one that will make you think; give you courage and hope, for no matter what you face. I highly recommend it.
In Rivers’ (Her Daughter’s Dream, 2010) latest inspirational tale, Pastor Zeke feels compelled to walk to the bridge at the edge of Haven, his small Northern California town. There he discovers an abandoned newborn infant. The year is 1936 and his wife, Maryanne, her heart weakened by rheumatic fever in her childhood and advised against another pregnancy, wants to keep the child. They name her Abra. Five years later, Maryanne dies and Pastor Zeke gives Abra up for adoption to friends. Abra ends up feeling rejected by her birth mom and the pastor, and never bonds with her adoptive family. Joshua, her best friend, goes to war in Korea with a MASH unit, and she runs away to Hollywood and becomes a starlet under the tutelage of an agent who sees her as his Galatea. Hollywood success fails to make Abra feel whole and wanted, and she has no idea that Joshua is looking for her. Rivers’ persistent Christian message will please readers who are seeking fiction with a repeated and strong message about redemption and salvation.
Starred review
When Pastor Zeke Freeman finds a newborn baby abandoned under a bridge, he brings the child home and names her Abra. Although his wife, Marianne, is not well, she accepts the responsibility of caring for another child gladly. However, by the time their young charge is five, Marianne dies, and Pastor Zeke gives Abra to another family to raise. The girl is heartbroken and angry. By the time she reaches high school, the teen is already on a troubled path. Hooking up with the charming Dylan, she is off to find fame and fortune in the movie business. Her exotic looks take Hollywood by storm, and she soon realizes how fast life moves in Tinseltown, even in the 1950s. But success exacts a dreadful price, and now all she wants to do is return to Haven and the people who have always loved her.
VERDICT This is another compelling and moving story by one of the genre’s most honored and talented writers. Abra is realistically crafted, and her story—based on Ezekiel 16—is poignant and bittersweet. Essential for Rivers’s many fans.

Why you should read it: If you are looking for a sweet little Christian romance with a mild theme of redemption, you’d better look elsewhere. Bridge to Haven is one of the edgiest Christian romances I have had the pleasure of reading in a long while. Francine Rivers has woven a deeply moving story with an adept hand that knows just how to layer humanity, in all its beautiful and ugly truth, into almost every individual who steps onto the page. This story takes Abra to some very dark places before a pinprick of hope breaks through.

Some scenes (even one post-redemption scene) might be considered “almost graphic” by inspirational/Christian romance standards, but that does not mean those readers should shy away. Francine Rivers writes these sorts of scenes in a way that puts the reader in the moment, but allows her to depart without feeling soiled by what she witnessed therein. There is beauty and meaning to be found throughout this emotion-gripping story, even in the contrast between Abra’s bedroom experiences.

Longtime fans of Francine Rivers will not be disappointed in this painful, moving, and triumphant tale of redemption. For those who have not yet given this best-selling legend-of-an-author a try, I highly recommend Bridge to Haven.

When I was first given a copy of Redeeming Love and was told I MUST read it, the rebellious side of me tried not to (I wasn’t a fan of Christian fiction). But I was soon gripped by the tale of undeserved love and grace that the re-telling of the story of Hosea and Gomer revealed. And the same has been true for every other Francine Rivers book I have devoured since.

I must say Francine has done it again. I am always totally blown away by the worlds that her huge novels create. Each one is based around a totally different era and situation and yet she expertly crafts a totally plausible and utterly believable backdrop for her characters. It is obvious why she is a bestselling author, as she knows her craft so well.

Francine often has at the heart of her books the eternal story of redemption and grace. This newest one reminded me a little of Redeeming Love, in that it focused on one girl’s journey. She makes so many huge mistakes, but ultimately finds her way home again.

The book begins with Pastor Zeke discovering a little girl, just born, abandoned by the bridge into Haven. Taking her in for her first years, he eventually feels he must give her to another family from his church to raise. Devastated, Abra kicks back against the situation, feeling that it is just another instance of her being abandoned. You can sense the deep hurt on both sides, but also the integrity as the pastor tries to do what he feels is right.

Eventually Abra grows into a beautiful young woman, but when a fast-talking, fast-driving boy turns up in town that both she and her “sister” fall for, it is she that turns her back on all she has known and runs away with him. Abra soon learns life’s lessons the hard way as she is used and abused by the boy.

Ending up in Hollywood, Abra becomes a rising acting star—but only due to a controlling agent desperate to make a comeback.

There are so many things that spoke to me in this story. It is obviously about temptation, grace and unconditional love. However it is also about making mistakes and having to live with the consequences, feeling helpless, lost and alone, what it is like to have to let go and watch someone make decisions you know aren’t good for them, learning to grow up and take responsibility, having to face those you’ve hurt (and those people face you). Even though the book was set in 1950s America, the themes are universal and timeless.

I felt drawn to the parts of the novel that I could relate back to situations and circumstances I’d come across in my own life, but it also ultimately urges you to reflect on your own salvation and the fact that we have a loving Father who beckons us with unconditional love—whatever we’ve done.

Francine has a way of drawing you into the world she has created and I found myself reading faster and faster—often missing little bits and having to go back because I was so eager to find out what was going to happen.

If I have one criticism (and I’m really having to scrape the barrel here as I think Francine is an incredible writer) it is that, because her books are often based on the wider Christian story of redemption, they can be a little predictable—as you know what is going to win out in the end. However, although the ending of this book tied up a lot of the story in ways I was expecting there was one part I hadn’t seen coming at all. So that little “shock” made the read even more pleasurable.

Bridge to Haven is out now from Tyndale House Publishers. If you’ve never read any of Francine Rivers’ books then go and discover them for yourself—you are in for a real treat.

Rivers (Redeeming Love) returns with a page-turning recasting of the story of the prodigal son, here a prodigal daughter. In 1936, Abra Matthews is found as a newborn under a bridge in the small California town of Haven by Pastor Ezekiel Freeman. She’s taken in, but never feels as if she quite belongs, so she is susceptible to a beguiling young man who years later lures 17-year-old Abra to Hollywood. There, she becomes starlet Lena Scott, made over by a Pygmalion-like agent who wants everything from her, even while Abra/Lena comes to understand the cost of what she thought she wanted. Rivers nicely evokes 1950s Hollywood, with its gossip columnists, high-wattage movie stars, and ladder-climbing aspirants; Elvis Presley and Lana Turner put in cameos. This story arc will be particularly resonant for Christian readers, but Rivers has the writing ability to reel in others who enjoy a well-told tale of redemption.
In Rivers’ exquisite style, she takes the Biblical story of Ezekiel 16 and translates it into a character-driven tale set in the ’30s through the ’60s. Relating the experiences of the characters to the reader’s relationship with God takes the story to the next level. Richly detailed, at times disturbing, but completely real and dynamic, this is a book to savor.
Francine Rivers is perhaps the best novelist of our time. In Bridge to Haven, she quickly captured me with her characters and pulled me into the story of this prodigal daughter. It’s a story you can’t forget. I predict it will become a blockbuster like Redeeming Love. Novel Rocket and I give it our highest recommendation. It’s a 5-star must read. Bridge to Haven has been added to my Top Ten for 2014 and My All Time Favorites List.

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  1. Amy C
    VA
    Age: 35-44
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Bridge to Haven
    July 24, 2014
    Amy C
    VA
    Age: 35-44
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5

    Why in the world did it take me so long to read a book by Francine Rivers? Bridge to Haven is the first I have read by her. I can see why so many highly recommend her. Wow! I was quite impressed.
    Abra went through so much in her young life. I wasn't sure what I thought of her at first. Half way through the book, I realized how much I liked her and was rooting for her to the end. And I cannot believe the last 10 pages. I did not see that coming at all.
    I really did like this book. Such a powerful message of misunderstandings and a reminder to just place yourself in God's hands. Great book! Highly recommended.
    I look forward to read more by Francine Rivers. She has a great writing style and I want to get my hands on every book she has written.
    5 stars.

  2. Kristie
    upstate NY
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    excellent story and thought-provoking
    July 19, 2014
    Kristie
    upstate NY
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5

    "Bridge To Haven," a novel written by Francine Rivers, is one that draws the reader in and holds you there for a long time after you are done reading.
    Lena was born and deserted by her mother under a bridge where she was found by the town pastor. All of her life she had spent sheltered in Haven and just wanted an escape. Moving to Hollywood seemed the answer; however things are not always what we believe them to be.
    Francine has done a wonderful job with this book. It is a very touching story of grace, love, temptation and moving on from mistakes. I found this book to be one that really brought the characters to life and really allowed the reader to become a part of the characters' lives. Lena's life has been a mystery, a disappointment and constantly wanting more, wanting something different. I felt as if I was on this journey with Lena every step of the way and I highly recommend this book.

  3. Joyful92482
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: female
    3 Stars Out Of 5
    July 14, 2014
    Joyful92482
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: female
    Quality: 3
    Value: 3
    Meets Expectations: 3

    Abra, who was abandoned as a baby, deals throughout her life with feeling of not being loved. As a result of how she feels her actions lead to many troubles. Throughout it all, Joshua has been praying for her to find her way back home to Haven & to find a home in God. This was a good story of how no matter what our experiences in life we can find love & forgiveness through God & be made white as snow through his forgiveness.

  4. Sufficient in Jesus
    Age: 18-24
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Ezekiel 16: 4-14. Read it first.
    July 12, 2014
    Sufficient in Jesus
    Age: 18-24
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5

    Bridge to Haven is not a repacked Redeeming Love. First, because there will only ever be one book like that, and second because Abra's story is her own.

    Redeeming Love took us to the California gold rush days and introduced us to a woman who had been forced into prostitution as a child.
    Bridge to Haven takes us to a small California town in the 1950's, and we meet a girl who is much loved but doesn't know it yet. Human imperfections all around her and a lack of answers about her own past send her seeking a future far away from everyone who really knows her.

    There is a battle here for Abra's life, love, and loyalty.
    She's a girl who thinks nobody wants her.
    Her biological mother left her to die. Her first father, Pastor Ezekiel, gave her up to another family because he thought they would be able to offer her more. That couple already had a daughter, and the girls at 16 have grown to be rivals, not comrades.

    The only person she truly trusts is Pastor Ezekiel's son. And even Joshua, barely in his twenties and just back from the Korean war, can't seem to convince her that he cares anymore. The brotherly teasing and hiking trips and cheeseburgers that used to connect them when she was a child no longer work. She craves love, and she's not recognizing it right in front of her, wrapped as it is in plain packaging.

    Abra is a girl who is uncertain about her own value. And all it takes to steal her heart is a little attention, somebody who desires her company and who makes that desire known. She's too young to tell when a romance is tainted. And so Abra disappears from her home town.

    This is the story of her leaving and her return. Slowly, painfully, step by step, she loses everything including her own sense of identity. Hollywood made her promises that it could never keep, and there is nothing left that she recognizes as the real Abra.
    And she doesn't dare imagine that anybody is out there, longing for her to come home.

    Yet that is exactly the case. The God who formed her, the man who found her naked and newborn, the boy who grew up with her and wants her to come back. They are all calling/whispering/waiting/seeking and urging her to come Home. Grace itself is beckoning to her broken heart, but does she dare to trust it?

    Again, this is not Redeeming Love. Don't ever go into one book expecting it to be the same as the author's others. This is a fine story all by its self. The first moments to the final scene, even the dark times in the middle.... it all comes together eventually.

    Great storytelling reminds us why we need to be comfortable in our own stories, because our Author too knows just when to introduce a character, never wastes a scene, and knows how to carry us through a terrible chapter.

    (Item of note: I really appreciated Joshua's character. I liked the fact that he had been a brother/friend to her for years. It makes their deep bond and growing romance real. It was their foundation, built out of childhood purity and tested by fire. I admire his continual belief in Abra as a human being, and the way he constantly reminded her that she did not need to save herself. That work had already been done.
    Another element I really like is the quotes above each chapter. Some were from Scripture, some from poetry, others from great men and women of the past.)

    Thank you Tyndale Summer Reading Program for my review copy of this book.

  5. bookwomanjoan
    Oak Harbor, WA
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: female
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    Inspired by Ezekiel 16
    July 9, 2014
    bookwomanjoan
    Oak Harbor, WA
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: female
    Quality: 4
    Value: 3
    Meets Expectations: 4

    The inspiration for this novel, Rivers says in a Note from the Author, is from Ezekiel 16. There God speaks of His chosen people as an unwanted newborn. He had cared for them and even chose them for his bride. All of this even though they rejected Him.

    The main character in the novel is Abra, a newborn baby abandoned under a bridge. Pastor Zeke, on his early morning walk, felt led to go to the bridge and discovered the child. He and his wife took her in and raised her until the wife died. Then Abra was gladly taken in by another family in Haven.

    When a teen, Abra fell to the temptation of a flashy playboy. That began a life of hurt and confusion leading all the way to Hollywood. Pastor Zeke and his son Joshua never stopped praying for her, seeking God's hand to move her to return to Haven.

    Rivers says that Abra is like so many of us, wounded, confused, chasing happiness where we will never find it. “My prayer,” she writes, “is that the story of Zeke, Joshua, and Abra will draw you into a closer relationship with the God who sent His only Son, Jesus, to die for you so that you might live forever in Him.” (462)

    I like the premise of the story. It is a prodigal daughter type of narrative. Even while Abra was away seeking something she never would be able to find, those who loved her back in Haven continued to storm heaven for her. The only thing that makes this less than a perfect novel is its length. I felt the story was repetitive and could have been shorter. This is a character driven novel and we do read through much of what the characters were thinking. That aspect of the novel could have been shorter too. I have to admit, I did skim some of the long contemplative passages. Readers who like to immerse themselves in the life of a character will like this novel.

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