Book review: Bridge to Terabithia

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by Tim Burdick on 01 December, 2013

Bridge to Terabithia is a nostalgic tale of friendship and losing that special someone. Written by Katherine Paterson and published in 1977, it is one of my favorites for its intimate portrayal of a boy as he grows from the new person in his life and the changes that she brings.

Set in rural Virginia, Jess lives in a house with his overworked mother and father, and four sisters. His parents neglect him and his bratty older sisters harass him. The arrival of a new family at the old Perkins place brings Leslie into his life. They develop a close bond and escape into the deep forest which becomes their imaginary kingdom: Terabithia. A rope swing across a creek is their only means of entering their new domain.

The draw of this book is its timeless description of friendship. The emotional power of characters (Janice is a favorite as well) has not dimmed. Bullying is one of the story’s conflicts and the children’s fighting back against older kids shows the complex relationships between children. Also, even after countless re-readings, one of the final scenes between Jess and his teacher still makes me cry. If you have ever lost someone, it helps you to remember those who are in our lives for good until the end of time.

Parents and children should read it together and be ready to discuss serious questions about life and death. This book shows that our greatest gifts are friendship, love, and family. Don’t squander them or abuse them, ever.

If you want a story to touch your heart, this is your book.

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