What Bridgetown High deals with is loss, guilt and forgiveness, along with the minutia of everyday life for a high school student in the 1960's--Mark. He's recently suffered the loss of his parents due to a horrific traffic accident--and the opening chapter really brings that loss into focus--and has to live with his grandmother. He also has to suffer being the odd person out at his high school, going from a somewhat preppy existence to a place in the boondocks, as it were, and dealing with the local riffraff. And he has his heart set on the local girl who is fancied by the scumbag who ALSO happens to be Mark's nemesis in the novel. How's that for a coincidence?
In lesser hands, it would have been obvious and pure melodrama. And while it's sort of convenient, Mr. West makes the most of a large cast of characters, showcasing them in sharply drawn portraits. Add in mystery, young romance, and the novel builds slowly but surely to a denouement that is satisfactory to all--or should be. In spite of the book's length--roughly 370 pages--it moves along at a solid pace, neither too fast nor too slow. The viewpoints from the various characters presented are fine, and while there are a few forgivable lapses in the narrative, overall, it's so solid that I can't really fault it in any way. I look forward to more of this author's work.