Two teenagers, strangers to each other, have decided to jump from the same bridge at the same time. But what results is far from straightforward in this absorbing, honest lifesaver from acclaimed author Bill Konigsberg.
Aaron and Tillie don’t know each other, but they are both feeling suicidal, and arrive at the George Washington Bridge at the same time, intending to jump. Aaron is a gay misfit struggling with depression and loneliness. Tillie isn’t sure what her problem is — only that she will never be good enough.
On the bridge, there are four things that could happen:
Aaron jumps and Tillie doesn’t.
Tillie jumps and Aaron doesn’t.
They both jump.
Neither of them jumps.
Or maybe all four things happen, in this astonishing and insightful novel from Bill Konigsberg.
This book… it’s a lot. You can read about it in an interview I did with The Huffington Post. Suffice it to say it is deeply personal, and it is a book I’ve written in the hope of spurring on more conversation about the epidemic of suicide that is currently devastating our country. Suicide rates for teens and adults are currently at the highest they’ve ever been in the U.S.
My strong belief is that we need to talk more about suicide. And that the conversation must be complete. No conversation about suicide should happen without talk about resources for those who are contemplating it, and no conversation should occur without talk about the impacts of suicide and the alternatives.
I know a lot about this because I was nearly a statistic.
In 1998, I nearly ended my life. I took pills. I was depressed and hopeless, and I felt I was a screw-up with no future. I wound up in the hospital, where I had my stomach pumped. Had I not made an eleventh-hour decision to phone a friend after taking the pills, I’m convinced I would not be here now.
That’s the thing about depression: it makes our brains lie to us. Had you told me back then where I’d be 20-plus years later, I would have told you there was no chance. I was certain I knew that the future only held more misery for me.
The truth is that one way or another, we have to find a way to stay another day. And that’s the reason I wrote THE BRIDGE the way I did. So readers can see what happens in each circumstance, based on the decisions up on that bridge. And they can see just how much impact we all have, even those of us who are sure no one would care if we were gone. The world has a way of proving us wrong.
Also, I wanted to explore the importance of connection. These two characters, Tillie and Aaron, connect in deep and meaningful ways in the final storyline, where they both decide not to jump. It doesn’t mean the pain goes away, or that life suddenly becomes easier; dealing with depression and suicidal ideation is as hard as it gets. But once Aaron and Tillie feel connected to each other, the sense of utter isolation falls away, and that changes everything.
So this is all to say that I am excited to get this conversation started, and for you all to read this book, which is a departure in some ways but in others not at all. To me, my books are all about young people searching for the answer to the question, “Who am I?” This book delves deep into that question for these two flawed and lovable characters.