Ten years ago, a man wrote and mailed a letter to a woman at the bank and then jumped off a bridge. A week later, a teenage girl, Nadia, stands on the bridge. There’s nothing obviously wrong with her; she’s just sad all the time and feels like she has nothing in common with other people. Nobody notices her standing on the bridge—except for teenage Jack. He’s been visiting the bridge daily since the man jumped, and now, he races forward and pulls Nadia to the ground so hard that the impact knocks her unconscious. She wakes up in the hospital later and tells the nurses that she was trying to get a picture. From this day forward, Nadia tries to understand the difference between herself and the man who jumped. She eventually becomes a psychologist. She learns to cope with her sadness and tries to be kind.
Despite Nadia’s belief that she has nothing in common with other people, as a teenager she seems a lot like Zara—sad, lonely, and disconnected. In fact, it seems possible that she grows up to be Zara’s psychologist, which would again highlight that the bridge is a symbol of connection. Jack’s demeanor in the novel’s present, though, suggests that while Nadia seems to have been able to come to terms with this traumatic experience, Jack perhaps hasn’t. Jack and Nadia then present differing ways of dealing with trauma and grief: Nadia has learned and healed, while Jack is still mired in his negative emotions.
Jack and Nadia never see each other again after that; Nadia isn’t even sure Jack exists. The experience they shared, though, solidifies Jack’s desire to become a police officer. Nadia trains to be a psychologist and, 10 years later, moves back home. She has a patient named Zara, and Zara gets caught up in a hostage drama—in an apartment with a balcony and a view of the bridge. Zara is at the apartment because 10 years ago, the man who jumped wrote her a letter. Zara has been carrying that letter with her everywhere, but she’s only been to the bridge once. It was a week after the man jumped, and she watched a boy rescue a girl who got up to jump.
Being able to stop Nadia from jumping helps Jack see that he is capable of doing good in the world. He wasn’t able to save the man, but he did unwittingly give Nadia an experience that inspired her later career in psychology. That Zara witnessed Jack save Nadia reinforces that the bridge is a connecting force. It also offers some hope to Zara that life isn’t all bad—there’s still good in the world, even if the man did jump.
Zara found Nadia’s wallet and has been secretly following Nadia since. She’s been watching the bridge, from apartment balconies, for 10 years—perhaps she’s afraid that if she actually goes to the bridge, she’ll jump. She wants to know the difference between the man and Nadia, but she hasn’t opened the letter because she doesn’t want to know that it was her fault. This whole story is complicated—maybe it’s not even about a bank robbery or a hostage drama. Maybe it’s about a bridge.
Wondering if Zara might jump if she actually went to the bridge highlights the true extent of Zara’s “lurching grief.” Her unread letter shows how trapped she is by fear and anxiety about her role in the man’s death. She’s still grieving for him. Suggesting that the story is actually about a bridge implies that this book isn’t so much about negative things, like the man’s suicide or the bank robbery. Instead, it’s about the random connections strangers form with one another.