The Bridge to Terabithia
By Katherine Paterson
Paperback (40th Anniversary), 179 pages
Jess Aarons works hard on his family farm – with his father working long hours and his four sisters nearly useless, Jess is constantly harangued by his mother. To distract himself, he’s been practicing running and hopes to be the fastest runner in 5th grade. When Leslie Burke, the new girl in town, easily beats him in a race, he finds he’s not nearly as fast as he thought, but more importantly, he finds the beginning of a strong friendship.
UGH THIS BOOK.
Disclaimer: I’ve never seen the movie, but I was aware of the most significant plot point going into this book. I still think the book is incredibly emotional and powerful, so even if you’ve seen the movie or you know the plot, I think you should read this book.
Also, from what I can tell from movie trailers (I’ve no desire to watch the movie), there’s a big fantasy element in there that really isn’t found in the book. Yes, Jess and Leslie create a magical world named Terabithia and they go there to hang out, but this isn’t a fantasy novel. If you’re looking for middle-grade fantasy, Terabithia is not the place to find it.
It is, however, the place to find FEELS.
Jess is the sort of kid that you feel for, even before his blossoming friendship with Leslie. He can’t seem to catch a break, but he doesn’t let himself get too down about it. He has a semi-secret passion for drawing – his father would see it as weak and his classmates at school would tease him, but he continues to draw and imagine what he would draw despite all that. Leslie has pluck and she’s incredibly intelligent and does a little gender-bending given that the book is set in the 1970s.
There are not a lot of pages in this book, so I feel a little constrained in regards to what I say because really you should just read this book (AND FEEL THE FEELS) for yourself, if you haven’t yet. I don’t know why I didn’t pick it up sooner, honestly. This is easily one of my top middle-grade books and I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a contemporary tale of friendship and loss. Also, my cover is gorgeous.