South of Bixby Bridge by Ryan Winfield
2011 Breakout Novel — About to turn 30 and being discharged from drug rehab, Trevor Roberts is sure he’s hit bottom with nowhere to go but up. He soon learns that sometimes the “bottom” is just the beginning. With more twists than California’s Highway 1, the intimate narrative follows a young man on a wild month-long ride to the dizzying, drunken heights of Napa Valley excess where he falls fast for his new boss’s intoxicating wife and becomes entangled in a strange threesome affair. But things soon begin to unravel as Trevor is drawn into a secret world of sex and scandal, only to have his lust for success drag him down again through a phantasmagoria of hedonistic hell. “Shocking and unapologetic”, South of Bixby Bridge barrels along with the “frenetic pace of a Hollywood blockbuster,” delivering “poetic prose loaded with images”. With gripping drama, witty dialogue, and sexy, jaw-dropping glimpses into the nouveau-riche underworld of California’s wealthy elite, you won’t be able to put this riveting new novel down. Buckle up and enjoy the read!
ADULT TOPICS (?) FINANCIAL THRILLER (?)CAUTIONARY TALE (?) REDEMPTION QUEST (?)
***If you or anyone you know has struggled with alcohol, drug, or sex addiction, you must read this!
Warning: This novel is an unfiltered account of a young man’s struggle to overcome addictions and it includes some graphic language, descriptive sexual scenes, and adult situations.
After reading Jane’s Melody (my review for that is here) I had to put all of Ryan Winfield’s books on my TBR. I bought South of Bixby Bridge when I was half way through Jane’s Melody, yes, I loved Jane’s Melody so much, I was buying another book of his before I was even finished. You know how it is when you start a series (ie: Black Dagger Brotherhood or Dark Hunters) and you have to quickly scoop up every single book in that series because you love it that much? That’s how it is for me with Ryan’s book. I honestly don’t know how he flew under my radar for so long with how I love the kind of books he writes.
I was nervous when I went into this book. Here is my very fast confession, I was a meth addict (I know, once an addict always an addict, so color me a recovering crank addict with a lot of years behind me). I am at 11 years clean, in February it will be 12. It’s not something I am proud of, there are a lot of bad memories that I don’t like to think about ever, and it’s not something I am ready to blog about more than saying, it happened, I fell, I recovered after another fall, and I’ve been clean for a very long time. I was nervous going into this book because of that. I wasn’t worried because it would bring me back cravings by reading about someone else’s addiction, I was worried because like I said, there are some bad bad memories that I don’t enjoy revisiting. Repression, not always healthy, but sometimes necessary.
I started this book and just like Jane’s Melody, I was completely absorbed in the first couple of pages. At 1:15 that first night, I didn’t want to put it down to go to bed, I think I finally went to sleep after 2 that morning. It took me a couple more days to get back into it, because life happens, but I read the rest of it the same night I was able to pick my iPad back up.
Many people who have not dealt with addiction would look at Trevor and say WTH? How could he be so stupid??? For me, as someone who had a serious drug problem, I felt so much compassion, and I just kept hoping he would make the right choices for himself and his future. I cried a couple of times because I’ve been there, some sobriety time behind you, with your drug of choice dangling in front of you nose, literally in my case, I didn’t make the right choice that first time. You think, I can do it once. I’ve gone this long. One time is not going to restart my addiction. I’ll just do it socially. I have it all under control now. It doesn’t work like that. You have to steer completely clear of those that participate in whatever vice it is you have and those who enable it. I had to literally cut every single friend I had out of my life to get clean. There’s no looking back, no I can do this once. One line isn’t going to kill me. That one line might be what leads to your death. As you read this book, if you haven’t dealt with addiction in yourself or in someone you love, don’t judge Trevor based on behavior, understand that addiction makes people act completely out of character when they are in the death grip of the drugs/alcohol/whatever it might be. Some of us are wired differently. We can’t just do drugs recreationally (not that you should ever do that) or we can’t have a drink socially. We get sucked right back into the madness. Have compassion and know that until that person hits rock bottom, until they reach out for help on their own, nobody can force them to change. No matter how much they love someone, no matter how much they don’t want to disappoint someone, no matter how much they hate themselves when they are sober, they have to hit that point where they are crying out for help.
I felt literally hate for one character in this book. If you have read it, you know who I’m talking about. Hate. I don’t feel hate for book characters often. Dislike, yes, hate, no. Maybe I shouldn’t have. Maybe I should have had compassion like I did for Trevor, but I couldn’t bring myself to feel that for this particular character.
Ryan has this incredible talent with the written word, with pulling these emotions out of you, happy, sad, fear, hate, hope, anger, chapter by chapter you go riding this roller coaster of feelings. Maybe it’s because I’ve been there, but not a lot of books have tears streaming down my cheeks, some books will bring tears to my eyes (I’m a sentimental fool), this book, they fell. Normally I jump up and write a review as soon as I finish a book so that it’s fresh in my mind. I needed a full day to think through my review of Bixby Bridge before I could write it. I needed to figure how much of myself I felt comfortable putting in to it.
Ryan, it was another incredible ride. Thank you. Now, on to the Park Service Trilogy: The Park Service, Isle of Man, and then we have to wait until October for State of Nature. October. Really? I better read slow.