THE TOLL BRIDGE by Aidan Chambers
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A British novel--something between a love story and a philosophical meditation on adolescence--experimental in form, with flashbacks, stream-of-consciousness, and several narrators--large and complicated characters whose main passions are dime-store philosophizing and sex. Jan, the main narrator, has finished school but has no intention of going on to the university. He wants to find himself, and to this end he finds a job in the middle of nowhere, taking tolls from cars at a lonesome bridge. He lives alone in a little house near the bridge, where he has plenty of time to think. His only company--apart from the letters from his parents and girlfriend, who are all upset at his departure--is his boss's daughter, Tess. Suddenly a mysterious boy named Adam shows up and moves in with Jan. The relationships of Jan, Tess, and Adam fill most of the plot, a plot of thoughts and emotions rather than actions and events (the work has some kinship with Franny and Zooey, 1961). Chambers (NIK' Now I Know, 1988, etc.) is interested in the question ""what is a self?"" which he partially answers: His narrators write in a messy, irritatingly self-conscious style, but something coherent ultimately emerges from between the lines. A powerful brew, not for every taste.

Pub Date: June 30th, 1995
ISBN: 0810983583
Page count: 264pp
Publisher: HarperCollins