To the Bridge by Yasuko Thanh

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Canada: Hamish Hamilton, spring 2023

ABOUT YASUKO THANH

Yasuko Thanh (Photo: Don Denton)
(Photo: Don Denton)

Yasuko’s story collection Floating Like the Dead was published by McClelland & Stewart in 2012 and was shortlisted for the Danuta Gleed Award and the B.C. Book Prize for Fiction. One story in it won an Arthur Ellis Award for Best Crime Short Story. The title story won the Journey Prize for the best story published in Canada in 2009. Quill and Quire named Floating Like the Dead a best book of the year. CBC hailed Yasuko Thanh one of ten writers to watch in 2013. Her debut novel Mysterious Fragrance of the Yellow Mountains, inspired by the history of her father’s family in French Indochina, won the Rogers Writers’ Trust Prize for the best novel of 2016, and her biography, Mistakes to Run With, was a national bestseller. Yasuko lives in Victoria, B.C., with her two children.

To the Bridge

a novel by Yasuko Thanh

FROM THE WINNER OF THE 2016 ROGERS WRITERS' TRUST FICTION PRIZE FOR MYSTERIOUS FRAGRANCE OF THE YELLOW MOUNTAINS COMES A STORY THAT DEALS WITH EVERY PARENTS' WORST NIGHTMARE: A CHILD’S SUICIDE ATTEMPT.


The day started out ordinarily enough for Rose Duncan, her husband Syd, and their daughter Juliet. Another routine Sunday before the usual weekday grind. It was as the day was coming to a close that Rose was beckoned into Juliet’s room, and as soon as she stepped inside, she immediately knew that something was different when she detected the smell of vomit permeating the air. At first, in shock, she thought her daughter was hungover, but when Juliet asked to take a few days off from school, Rose’s mind shifted to another conclusion and she prepared herself to hear the words, “I’m pregnant.”

What followed was something far worse: five words that upended the life Rose thought she and her family were living and made her question everything she knew:

I tried to kill myself.

And then—

I only told you because it didn’t work.

There is a mad rush to the ER, a hospital stay because too much time had passed and the pills Juliet took had time to enter her bloodstream. Then there is a 24-hour surveillance, where the staff will ensure Juliet doesn’t try to kill herself again. And all Rose and Syd can do is hold each other and ask questions of the doctors who do not have satisfactory answers for why Juliet has to stay longer, why her numbers are not going down, why is her skin is the colour of limes, why?

And then, finally, Juliet is home once again, but things are no longer the same, no matter how much Syd pretends they are before drinking himself into a stupor. No matter Rose’s attempts at normalcy before she walks over to her neighbour’s house, finding escape in another man’s arms. And certainly not when Juliet starts dating a man 10 years her senior, whose skin is a jagged map of crack bumps and needle pricks.

What do you do when your smart, beautiful teenage daughter with such promise tries to kill herself and then starts living life on a knife's edge?

Do you hold on tight, watching her every move, weighing her every word, stationing yourself outside her bedroom door “just in case”?

Do you pretend everything is normal, letting her go out to see her friends, letting her go to the mall and do all the normal things a teenager who hadn’t tried to kill herself would do?

Or do you walk down the same slippery slope of heartache and sorrow as she does until it leads to nowhere else but to the bridge?

 

PRAISE FOR THE WORKS OF YASUKO THANH

“There is much in Mistakes to Run With to ponder about sacrifice, human nature, and acceptance.” —BC BOOKLOOK

“On rare occasions, you read a book that gives you the sense it had to be written, that the impulse to get these words on the page was more about necessity than choice. Books such as those are full of passion, pain and urgency, and offer the kind of triumph you feel lucky to witness. Mistakes to Run With is one such book – it feels driven by the compulsion to document, by the urgent human desire to be heard. And when every detail has been shared, every unvarnished truth thoughtfully relayed, Thanh makes you want to stand up and cheer the accomplishment.”
 —THE GLOBE AND MAIL

“Deft touches of magical realism lend this story of love, obligation, and sabotage the mysterious aura referenced in the title.”  — PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, starred review

Mysterious Fragrance of the Yellow Mountains will carry you away with the startling clarity of it language—you will almost forget you are reading at all. Until, that is, you are drawn up short by the uncanny sense that this book is not really about the past at all … that it is instead directly addressing you, the reader.”  — JOHANNA SKIBSRUD, Scotiabank Giller Prize-winning author of The Sentimentalists

“Sweeping yet intimate, Mysterious Fragrance of the Yellow Mountains is a novel in which not a single, haunting detail is trivial, and a devastating edginess straddles what is intoxicating, astonishing, and at once ancient and contemporary. Yasuko Thanh has rendered a richly imagined narrative of five men plotting, drinking, dreaming of poison against the fascinating backdrop of colonialism and revolution, where ghosts, superstition, love, and insanity seethe. This is a book to be savoured, thought about, and discussed -- a book to be remembered.”  — ALEXANDRA CURRY, author of The Courtesan

 

 

 

 

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