The Bridge Discussion Questions: Karen Kingsbury


 

Introduction

Molly Allen lives in Portland, but her heart is in Franklin, Tennessee—where she walked away from Ryan Kelly, a man she cannot forget. Now, Ryan and Molly’s favorite bookstore is in trouble. For thirty years, Charlie and Donna Barton have run The Bridge, providing the people of Franklin, Tennessee with coffee, conversation, and shelves of good books. But when a flood tears through Franklin, destroying every book in The Bridge, the bank threatens to pull the lease on the store and claim the Barton’s house. Despondent, Charlie considers ending his life. And in the face of tragedy, miracles unfold.

Topics & Questions for Discussion

1.     The Bridge is told from multiple points of view in alternating chapters, allowing readers to hear from Molly, Ryan, Charlie, and Donna. How might the story be different if The Bridge was only told from by Molly’s perspective? Or from Charlie’s? Were you drawn to any one, particular character’s story?

 

 

2. Molly spends every Black Friday watching Ryan’s video, but she refuses to check his profile on Facebook or ask mutual friends about what he is doing. What does this tell you about her character?  Why do you think she avoids learning more about Ryan, even though she still thinks of him?

 

 

3. In Chapter One, Molly regrets not telling Ryan that she loved him—acknowledging, “Like Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind, she should’ve said something.” (pg. 25) Yet Ryan also failed to tell Molly how he felt about her. What do you think holds each character back from revealing their true feelings? Do you have any similar regrets in your own life?

 

 

4.     Charlie occasionally shares scripture with his customers, in particular Deuteronomy 20:1, which reads: “When you go to war against your enemies and see horses and chariots and an army greater than yours, do not be afraid of them, because the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt, will be with you.” (pg. 33) Why do you think this passage in particular resonates with Charlie? How does this passage relate to the narrative as a whole?

 

 

 

5. What does The Bridge represent to each character? Do you think it is fair of Donna to urge Charlie to get another job?

 

 

6. Discuss Molly’s favorite book — Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Why is she so drawn to this particular novel? Does Ryan have the same connection with the novel as Molly does? What role does this classic piece of literature play in their relationship’s history? Have you ever read Jane Eyre?

 

 

7.     When Charlie’s loan application is rejected a second time, he thinks Donna might be better off without him. Were you surprised by Charlie’s suicidal thoughts?

 

 

8.     Although they are largely absent, father figures play an important role in the novel.  How might Charlie and Molly’s lives have been different if their parents were supportive?

 

 

9.     When Charlie is in a coma, Donna reads him messages from hundreds of customers about how much The Bridge meant to them. She believes Charlie can hear her and finds her faith restored. Do you believe Charlie understands? Does it matter if he hears, given the power the messages have for Donna?

 

 

10.      Both Molly and Ryan are guilty of hiding the truth, with Molly’s fake wedding ring and Ryan hiding her father’s call. What do you think would have happened differently if they had both been more honest with each other? Do you think they would be the same people had they started a relationship in college? Would Molly have her foundation, and Ryan his music?

 

 

11.     Why doesn’t Molly want Charlie and Donna to know she bought The Bridge? Why does she make sure Ryan knows the truth?

 

 

12.     Ultimately Molly and Ryan “thank the God of second chances.” (pg. 182) Yet, they are hardly the only characters offered another chance in the novel. How does this theme play a larger role in the narrative? Who else gets a second chance? Reflect on your own experience. When have you encountered a second chance?

 

 

Enhance Your Book Club

1. Arrange a visit to a local bookstore in your community and introduce your book club to the staff and owner. Take a moment to ask how they got into the bookselling business, why they choose to work in a bookstore, and ask for any new reading recommendations!

 

 

2. Charlie remembers reading Treasure Island in the library after school, while Molly remembers reading passages of Jane Eyre aloud. Have each member in your book club pick a book that has a specific memory tied to the reading experience. Where were you when you were reading this book? Why do you think you have a strong memory associated with this specific book? Has this book played a meaningful part in your life in anyway? Share and discuss your responses with your book club members!

 

 

3. Organize a drive with your book club members to collect used books to donate a school or a library in your community or to a larger charity organization.

 

 

4. The power of prayer plays a crucial role in The Bridge. Visit www.KarenKingsbury.com to become a part of Karen Kingsbury’s own prayer team. Read other reader’s prayer requests and submit your own.

 

 


 

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