Bridge Ices Before Road

by S. Rose

Verdict: The novel features engaging, vividly drawn characters, with distinctive well-written voices, who take us back to the 1970s, a time of great change, especially for women and girls.

IR Rating



IR Rating

Adoptee Frances Orillo is being brought up to be a lady by her Irish-American mother and is well provided for by her hardworking Italian-American father. But she feels unloved and unwanted at home and out of place at school.

Her unruly Malone cousins are dragging themselves towards adulthood despite the passivity of their saintly mother and the abuse of their alcoholic father. When the Malones move in to the old Victorian house behind the Orillos, owned by Grandmother Malone (who also happens to be Frances’ great-aunt), Frances is thrilled to find a friend in Maddy (aka Mad Dog). Eleven-year-old Maddy is already an accomplished fighter and chain smoker. She and her older brother Tommy take Frances under their wing and protect her from the school bullies.

Frances Orillo is an engaging character, with a distinctive well-written voice, who takes us back to the 1970s, a time of great change, especially for women and girls. Her move from childhood to young adulthood, from innocence to the early awakening of knowledge, dominates the first and best part of the novel. Nor does she have to carry the story alone. The other characters are vividly drawn and play their parts well, from the hard-working dad who doesn’t understand why his wife wants to go out to work and the adoptive mother who still laments her own childlessness, to the child Maddy–old before her time–who tries to protect her siblings from their father’s terrible rages. They veer close to caricature at times—the good too good and the bad too bad—but the story carries the day.

Frances and Maddy leave the relative safety of elementary school for the mayhem of middle school and then go on to different high schools. Meanwhile, the dysfunction in the Malone household ratchets up a notch: just about every vicissitude of modern life is visited upon them.

Towards the end of the book, the narrative shifts from its close focus on Frances and first person point-of-view. The change is unsettling, although those sections are still well written, and, despite this shifting focus, the denouement with the instigator of much of the unhappiness chronicled in the book is left to our imagination.

Reviewed by Brid Nowlan for IndieReader

3 replies
  1. avatar
    Jeanne O. Whitehouse says:

    I have read “Bridge Ices Before Road” in its entirety and loved it, so much so, I agreed to record the audiobook. I agree with much of the Indie Reader review, but can assure future readers that the book goes much further and deeper into the characters’ lives than do most novels. Author, Sienna Rose, has done an incredible job weaving her tale through the late 60’s and 70’s, when our country was still dealing with segregation, women were still veered toward domesticity, and the concept of open homosexuality was unacceptable. Rose does a fabulous job addressing these and other impotabt societal issues our country faced at that time. It is a wonderful peek at American history, just on a more intimate level.

    As I continue my progress on the audiobook I am reminded why I said, “yes.” The characters feel real, vibrant, and are memorable, to say the least. As far as the ending goes, I think it is fine the way it is. The reader is left with closure but just enough doubt to wonder “what if.” I HIGHLY recommend this novel. We expect the audiobook version to be released winter 2013, just in time for those icy roads.

  2. avatar
    cathy nagler says:

    Having read and thoroughly enjoyed this book, I intend to read it again paying particular attention to its nuances as it can be read and enjoyed on so many levels..
    The story and all its characters are very engaging and I am left feeling as if I have known them all at one point or another. Even the less desirable characters that I wouldn’t particularly want in my life I am compelled to have an understanding of and a compassion for by the time I reach the end of the book. The story’s events and characters are intricately woven and I am pulled into that tapestry. Even with its satisfying completion, I don’t want it to end.
    I genuinely look forward to Sienna Rose’s future works and highly recommend this engaging and unforgetttable book.

  3. avatar
    Christoph Fischer says:

    Thank you so much for featuring one of my favourite indie books of this year. I am pleased you found it (almost) as good as I did. Maybe having grown up in a similar environment as the protagonist has given me a particular bond to the book and its magnificent characters but to me this was a rather previous find amongst indie writers.
    I was a little surprised to find this a 4 star rating. Reading through your magnificent review I only found a few hints at criticism which I would like to respond to to assure the reader that these points may not be perceived in the same way as they were by the indie reviewer here.

    Rest assured that there is nothing farcial or silly about the book and its characters, as may have been implied by the term “caricature”. There is so much to each of the main characters, I would hate to let you think that they were carelessly drawn or developed.
    The other point I would like to make is the comment about the ending. Again, I admit that there is no drastic criticism in the review but I personally found the climax to the book incredibly tense and well written and again would like to clarify that to me the ending was completely satisfactory and apt, and far from vague as is implied by the phrase left to the imagination.
    I really would have liked to see something substantial and specific in the review about the books message and its purpose.

    Having said all that, I am pleased you approved of the book and have found so many of its strengths and positives.
    I hope your readers will pick the book up and enjoy it just as much as I did.


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