Written by, Peter J. Tomasi
Illustrated by, Sara DuVall
The Bridge stands apart from modern graphic novels due to its minimalist, black and white art style, which effectively captures the emotions of each character. The story is an adaptation of historical events, which captures not only factual events but flushes out the values of the major characters, as well. Readers will develop a personal stake in the main characters by empathizing with their struggles, losses, and perseverance in pursuit of the completion of the bridge.
The story describes the design and eventual construction of the Brooklyn Bridge connecting lower Manhattan with Brooklyn. The bridge’s architect, John Augustus Roebling, did not start the work; however, it was his son Washington, who was ill and bedridden for 14 years of the construction, and his wife Emily who completed the project. The story takes the reader through the planning, perseverance, and loyalty not only to the family but to the idea that technology can make people’s lives better. The portrayal of the Roebling family’s altruistic belief in their felt duty to contribute to the country and its citizens came across as preachy; however, it accurately represents the mentality of urban industrial America at the time.
The story moves forward at a consistent pace and did not get bogged down by providing an abundance of details. This made some of the transitions feel less flushed out, however, it also kept the major themes from being lost in the minutia, and it helped me to remain engaged. While the art captured emotions and the tension in the story well, it sometimes failed to provide tonal variations, which could have been supported through shading or minimal colors. However, the stripped-down black and white art aligned the stark, and sometimes, bleak nature of the endeavor for the Roebling family.
I highly recommend this book for its portrayal of history and its memorializing of the Roebling family’s sacrifice. The artistic portrayal of the family brings life to the values of the family, and it reminds us of the level of commitment that was required to build this country. In a way, The Bridge makes it acceptable to have altruistic beliefs that technological improvements have the capacity to change lives and are an important part of this country’s advancement in the protection of humanity.
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