'We need a place,' Leslie called to him, '...just for us.'
It was Leslie who invented Terabithia, a secret kingdom on an island across the creek. Here Jess is strong and unafraid. So when something terrible happens, Jess finds he is able to cope better than he could ever have imagined.
Bridge to Terabithia is a powerful story about friendship between 2 very different people. Jesse Oliver Aarons is a very reserved boy who feels he is a disappointment to his family, to his father in particular. The only boy among 5 siblings, and the middle child too, Jesse always feels quite out of placed. His circumstances in life make him want to prove his worth. In the beginning of the story, Jesse spent his school holidays training himself to run fast in hopes that he would beat the boys in the school race.
When Jesse met Leslie Burke, the new girl in school who happened to be his neighbour too, he was struck by her unconventional character. When he first saw her - short hair cut close to the face and wearing casual shirt and faded jeans above the knees - he was even unsure whether the new kid was girl or boy. He was aloof at first, didn't like her for beating the boys in the school race including him. But something happened, and Jesse felt his fire inside awakened and the 2 developed a strong friendship.
In Terabithia, their made-believe kingdom, Jesse found himself sufficient. He was king and Leslie helped him come out of his shell. He was inspired to be his best, not a disappointment. Leslie's courage was contagious and he thought he could be brave too whenever they are together.
Indeed, Bridge to Terabithia is a treasure and it deserves its Newberry Medal award. Lightly written for the young adult readers, it carries with it a profound lesson of coping up with life's struggles.
I highly recommend this book. The emotion is like a smooth ride with great scenery but the scenery has taken your attention and then you suddenly find yourself crashing into a tree. That's when you find yourself shift in emotions from sunny to storms in an instant. I didn't feel this magic though. I regret reading the Introduction in the beginning of the book - it was a bad idea whoever decided to publish it that way. It totally stole away the magic of the climax and I suggest that if one decides to give this book a read, go straight to the story. It is too good to need any introduction anyway.
The movie version was not bad either. I'd say it did justice to the book. First of all, and I may be biased, casting was great. Josh Hutcherson made a great Jesse - he fits these kind of characters, a kind of weak protagonist - and although Leslie looked definitely 'girl' in the movie, AnnaSophia Robb had a good tandem with Josh. They also managed to portrait the important points in the book despite the fact that in my opinion, they would have been difficult to portrait in a movie.
My favourite quotes from the book:
Mrs Myers always caught him when his mind was on vacation, but she never seemed to suspect Leslie of not paying attention. He sneaked a glance up that way. Leslie was totally absorbed in her geography book, or so it would appear to anyone who didn't know.
'I hate her,' Jess said through his sobs. 'I hate her. I wish I'd never seen her in my whole life.'
...Finally his father said, 'Hell, ain't it?' It was the kind of thing Jess could hear his father saying to another man. He found it strangely comforting, and it made him bold.
'When my husband died... poeple kept telling me not to cry, kept trying to make me forget... But I didn't want to forget.'
Overall, I rate my experience with this book as 4 stars. Other than the anti-climax intro, I also didn't like the illustrations. The pictures in the book showed a very boy version of Leslie and it made it difficult for me to reconcile her graceful and beautiful run with her appearances.