from my bookshelf: to the bridge by nancy rommelmann


in to the bridge, nancy rommelmann investigates the tragic case of amanda stott-smith. amanda dropped her two children into the willamette river in may 2009, killing her son, eldon. eldon’s sister, trinity, survived. rommelmann investigates stott-smith’s dark story, searching for the complicated answer to one question: why?


“A guard took Amanda’s elbow to escort her from the room. Amanda did not appear to understand the gesture. Another guard turned her and she moved out the door as if moving through deep water.”

“Then he looked at me, and in the seconds before he motored south, I had the impractical thought to shout to him, to connect his concern with my own.”

“Hadley seemed unperturbed by this possibility, sunny even, as our breakfast arrived, as though having a person’s life in his hands was as much part of the day as eggs and toast.”

“Sara reached for him, and the first thing she thought was, it’s Amanda. She’s done something; it was only a matter of time.”

“The eventuality was unthinkable to Amanda’s family. But they did see it coming; they just didn’t know what it was.”

“Hadley would of course not ask Amanda to tell him everything. He would approach her as a craftsman. He would observe and assess and build a story meant to save her life. She was fully in the machine now, both cosseted and at its mercy. Maybe she felt safer there. May she did not want to be understood.”

“How you lived with the outcome, or how the caller lived, was to protect his family, stick to his faith, and make one late-night, beer-fueled, not-for-attribution phone call. Then maybe he could sleep.”

“This inability to love and to feel joy struck me as deeply sad. To constantly mirror the emotions of others in order to get by must be exhausting, and lonely. And yet it was difficult to muster sympathy when you were the person who’s had your soul eaten.”