Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson,with illustrations by Donna Diamond. | My copy: Paperback, 128 pages, HarperTrophy, HarperCollinsPublishers, 1987 (originally published 1977). | Source: Own. | Add to your Goodreads TBR here!
Warning! This review is going to contain heavy spoilers. If you haven’t read Bridge to Terabithia, stop reading this and go find the book immediately. Then come back. All I can say is that it is a fabulous Newbery Medal-winning Middle Grade novel(la) that is so raw, moving, and heartbreaking. It is dark but also light, and tells a beautiful tale about friendship. So. Go read it before I talk about it. Seriously, this post will still be here when you get back.
So you’ve read the book? Good. Let us proceed.
I didn’t think I’d cry this time. I’ve read this book at least once before, and I’ve seen the movie (oh, baby Josh Hutcherson, aw!), so I knew the story very well and I guess thought I wouldn’t be as much of a shocked wreck when Leslie Burke died.
I was wrong. So completely, utterly wrong.
Right before it happened, right when Jess was about to find his family mad with worry, I started tearing up. My bottom lip trembled uncontrollably. I literally couldn’t turn the page. I didn’t want it to happen, and I thought that by not turning the page it would keep her alive. I could pretend that she was still happy and well. I could keep Jess from having his soul broken to pieces. I didn’t actually cry at this point, but I was an emotional mess inside.
But then… then when Jess went through the stages of grief and reached Anger… I lost it. When he took his art supplies and threw them into the creek, saying that he hated her–I couldn’t keep the tears from gushing. It was hearbtreaking. Absolutely heartbreaking. The saddest thing I’ve experienced in a long time. He lost his best friend. He lost a person he loved and trusted, who he played and made stories with, who was different and understood him, who made him happy and allowed him to be himself.
I loved Leslie, too. She was such a spunky, fresh character, seemingly unafraid but also fearful and ashamed at times. The two of them both had quirks that were not deemed “normal”, and when they slowly and without realizing it bonded, it just made me smile. They never had a point when they “became” friends, they simply were.
Since you’ve read the book if you’re reading this (gosh, I do hope you’ve read it–if you just spoiled this for yourself, shame on you!), I’m not going to go hugely into the plot and the rest of the characters. Everything did its service, but it’s Jess and Leslie’s friendship that is the focus of this book. Katherine Paterson crafted their relationship flawlessly and Jess’s emotions during the aftermath so perfectly. This is an amazing book, one I am so glad I reread, now that I am older and (somewhat) wiser. It impacted me even more than before, and I know I’ll want to return to Terabithia again someday. ♦