WARNING – CONTAINS SPOILERS
In 5th grade reading class, my teacher had us read Bridge to Terabithia. As an 11 year old who was still well unaware of good literature, I thought the book seemed boring and stupid. When I got to the ending I couldn't understand why Leslie had to die. It was so unexpected and sad. Still, I didn't appreciate the book until I was probably in high school when I realized how much books meant to me.
Just like with Number the Stars, I decided to read it as a quick read so I will be able to reach my goal of 50 books by the end of the year. And just like with Number the Stars, I relished in excitement as I read this incredibly powerful novel about two friends and the power of their imaginations. For a quick summary for the novel: Jess Aarons is beat in a race at recess by the new kid, a girl named Leslie. The two become friends and create Terabithia – a magical Kingdom just for them where Jess is the king and Leslie is the queen. Leslie's imagination is a rarity to Jess and he finds himself encouraged by it. She encourages him to draw when his dad views it as silly and she encourages him to be better in everything he does.
I LOVE this book! I don't think words can describe how much I love it. Jess and Leslie are such inspirational characters for the young and the old. Not only are they inspirational but relatable. I felt I could relate to both of these characters on so many levels – especially Jess. I loved his family and his entire world of art and learning about how powerful the imagination is. It isn't just the characters though that make this book great. Terabithia itself is, of course, a huge aspect of this book. I don't know about other readers, but I have always wanted a world I could call my own – a world where I could escape and write and let my imagination run wild where I could read books all day and get away from the TV and the rush and demand of real life. Everyone wants their own Terabithia and that’s why I believe this book has struck a chord for so many readers. Then there are other poignant points in the book – Jess and May Belle's relationship, Janice, Ms. Edmund's music classes, P.T., Leslie's talk about church and dying, and Jess's artwork.
It's no surprise that I am giving this book a 5 out of 5 stars!
P.S. – I watched the 2007 Disney movie after I read the book and was highly disappointed – it was poorly acted (particularly AnnaSophia Robb) and the story line was changed to be more modern which overall, I believe, hurt the plot. The only good things I have to say about it are Josh Hutcherson was okay as Jess, Bailee Madison was fantastic as May Belle, and I loved at the ending when Jess said to Ms. Edmunds, "next time, invite Leslie (to the art museum)" – that was a very moving addition to the story. Also, Zooey Deschanel was a good choice for Ms. Edmunds.