Then one morning a terrible tragedy occurs. Only when Jess is able to come to grips with this tragedy does he finally understand the strength and courage Leslie has given him.
©1974 Katherine Paterson; (P)2005 HarperCollins Publishers
I was a sensitive kid (I hated watching Road Runner and Trix commercials because of the unfairness of it all). I played with a pack of little boys, and I knew the worst thing that could happen to a person was for someone to see you cry. When friends were reading Bridge to Terabithia and reporting it as a sad, sad story, but very, very good, I ran away from it as hard as I could. We even played Terabithia in the woods together and I pretended not to mind not knowing the back story. Now I wish I hadn't waited 30 years to read this book. There's pain here, true, but also beauty and the hidden memory of what it was like to be 10 years old. I would recommend this book to anyone, even those who always wanted to give a cartoon rabbit a long-in-coming bowl of breakfast cereal.
I’ve seen this novel described as fantasy, and it is in a way, but to me it is simply general fiction. The fantastical elements are purely imaginary and are shown to be such. Terabithia is the kingdom they create and rule to give them some control over their lives, and to have fun. This is the imagination at it’s best and is sorely missing from kids play these days. I can remember my sisters and I going on long ‘adventures’ as we called them through the back woods – though never created any magical kingdoms that I recall…
Either way, a great story about the importance of friendship, kindness, and seeing things through another’s eyes. A lot of great lessons in here for all of us. Leslie is often referred to in reviews as a lesbian though there was no mention of her being a lesbian and I couldn’t find anything solid that referred to it. Her love of sports, dislike of dresses, and active mind were all likely considered gender non-conforming and so she gets the lesbian title given to her. I’d like to hear more on this from those in the know…
When I was about six years old, we toured a chapel of the bones and remains of St. Peter on display in Odense, Denmark. About 20 mins after we exited, I became quite upset over what I'd seen and couldn't comprehend why our bodies turned like this. That was my first exposure to death. Once my mother realized that she probably shouldn't have taken me to this part of the tour, she did her best to console me.
I think this nice little book should be allowed in schools. For too many of us, exposure to death is not 'nearly enough' at such a young age. For those of us that have been sheltered and do not have these experiences till we are older, does not really help us. It only worsens pain later on by not having this experience or by not having the opportunity to talk about it. Even though some of us are blessed to not be exposed, this is an area that should be talked about from a younger age. Death is unfortunately a part of life and to try to 'save some of us' from that is not in our best interest. I wish I had read this at 9 or 10 years of age. Maybe earlier.
At the end of this story there is a little narrative discussion with the author. They talked about the fact that death is not appropriate for children and thus the reasons why they banned the book. Right, so well stated. Death is not appropriate for anyone, let alone children. However, given that it is in all our lives at some point, avoiding it by not reading a story that gently brings it up, is not justifiable means to a 'false-safe-harbour'.
This is well written book. The events that transpire are written in such a way that allows for a gentle exposure to the concept. I would encourage anyone who has children, to consider reading this with them as a way to bring up the topic. I wish my mum had done this with me or at least considered it instead of trying to completely shelter me from it.
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