Bridget Duke is the uncontested ruler of her school. The meanest girl with the biggest secret insecurities. And when new girl Anna Judge arrives, things start to fall apart for Bridget: friends don't worship as attentively, teachers don't fall for her wide-eyed "who me?" look, expulsion looms ahead and the one boy she's always loved—Liam Ward—can barely even look at her anymore. When a desperate Bridget drives too fast and crashes her car, she ends up in limbo, facing everyone she's wronged and walking a few uncomfortable miles in their shoes. Now she has only one chance to make a last impression. Though she might end up dead, she has one last shot at redemption and the chance to right the wrongs she's inflicted on the people who mean the most to her.
And Bridget's about to learn that, sometimes, saying you're sorry just isn't enough….
I’ve been meaning to read more contemporary books for a while and Here Lies Bridget seemed to fit the bill with its bright summery cover and high school setting. I also liked the premise because I’ve never read a ‘girl in limbo’ book before such as Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver and I know they are very popular in YA. Also, the concept of a mean girl being the main character sounded really interesting because it’s an angle I hadn't come across before.
Bridget Duke is your typical high school Queen Bee, pretty and popular but downright mean. She’s the kind of girl who will advise her friends to wear an unflattering dress so she looks better and doesn’t think about other people’s feelings or spend any quality time with her friends and family. In short, she rules the school with her selfish, catty and spiteful nature. Characters are one of the most important elements in a book for me and usually I have to like the protagonist to enjoy the book but instead I hated the way Bridget acted for the majority of the book. Despite this I was still rooting for her to change the way she treats people and clean up her act because although she was mean, she wasn’t without a heart but just thoughtless. I pitied her because she has a rough time at home with her father away and a stepmother she always argues with. Deep down in her, I could see the reason the way she behaves the way she does is she has surrounded herself with ‘fans’ to feel loved and wanted even though this is not an excuse. My favourite thing about her is that she's not just your stereotypical mean girl character you'll find in lots of books but Paige Haribson has created her to be more three-dimensional and complex with a detailed background and events that have influenced who she is.
Another character that deserves a mention is Bridget's ex-boyfriend Liam who she secretly still loves and longs to be with. Despite him breaking up with her, he was waiting for her to return to the girl he once knew and see the error of her ways and this belief in her was adorable, even though Bridget is completely indifferent to him caring about her at all. Their broken relationship was not a big focus of the story at all and it was refreshing to read a contemporary high school book not focused on romance.
It was the second half of the book that really grabbed me and had me racing through the pages to find out Bridget’s fate. Seeing her develop and see the consequences of her actions and remarks through the eyes of other people when she was in limbo was great and that part of the book I loved the msot because it left me guessing as to what would happen. Some people may find this part repetitive but I found it really interesting although I won’t go into detail why to avoid spoilers.
Haribson presents a good moral to the story and as she has just left high school, I took notice of the fact that the ‘teen speech’ was spot on and not clichéd or awkward. This added an extra depth of reality to the story combined with what I thought was a realistic portrayal of the stresses and social dynamics of high school. Combined with the easy flowing and smooth narrative and great sense of humour, I think she has promising potential as a young author.
Verict: Here Lies Bridget gives a entertaining insight into the perspectives of a high school mean girl forced to face up to her behaviour and I had a love-hate relationship with it because Bridget's behaviour was maddening but her story of insecurities, second chances, friendship and love was surprisingly compelling. It's a contemporary Christmas Carol story mixed with a dash of Mean Girls and I'd especially recommend it to teenage girls and contemporary fans. This is Paige Haribson's debut and she's definitely an author I look forward to reading more of!