Katherine Paterson’s middle-grade book about the power of friendship will warm your heart at any age. When Jess Aarons determines to become the fastest runner in the fifth grade, he does not expect to come in second place to a girl. Leslie Burke moves in next door to Jess, and even though they rival each other at running, they soon become best friends. Leslie is very different from anyone at Jess’s school. She has money, a huge imagination, a big vocabulary, and no television. Although they do not have many other friends at school, they find a secret place in the woods, which they call Terabithia, where they can confront their real-life bullies in a beautiful fictional world. Leslie helps Jess use his imagination to go on fantastic adventures in Terabithia, where he can unashamedly show his love for art. They become inseparable and learn wonderful new things together, until disaster strikes and Jess is left alone in Terabithia. Jess must remember Leslie’s ability to see the most beautiful things in life, even after she is gone.
Bridge to Terabithia is a simple, lovely story that highlights the importance of loyalty and imagination in the face of adversity. Although Paterson’s language is easily readable, the speaker’s voice is far from juvenile. This novel deals with grief in an unorthodox way that even young people can comprehend and relate to.
Jess and Leslie’s love for one another is adorable and heart-warming, and their friendship is a beautiful one for which all middle schoolers strive. My copy of Bridge is falling apart from the myriad of times it has been read since I was ten years old. This novel is timeless and can be relatable for all ages.
I would recommend Bridge to Terabithia to anyone that has experienced death or grief, and to any middle grade students interested in fantasy stories.