Book Review Wednesday: Bridge to Terabithia (Katherine Paterson) 5 Stars

Posted: October 14, 2015 in Book Reviews
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Apparently this is one of those books every child has to read. I never got that memo, so decided to rectify that.

This book is about a boy (Jess) and the deep and unexpected friendship he forms with a new girl (Leslie). For me, this was worth the hype it has. You come to love the characters. Jess for his childish reasoning and love. Leslie for her blatant disregard of social pressures, and her ability to be her own quirky self.

They develop a lot over the book. They learn that the people hurting you may also be hurting themselves. Jess learns so much about what is important in life after a big event near the end of the book that I won’t spoil. While the event is horrible, it helps him be closer to the rest of his family, who until then had been very distant from him. That helps round up the book in a pleasing way. So a satisfying ending, but you’ll shed a lot of tears before that comes.

The majority of the plot while not thrilling, is very compelling. It revolves around everyday life and different challenges they face. I enjoyed it, but if you read nothing but non stop thrillers you might find it slow.

There’s one small part that you might find a little disturbing. A minor character reveals to her friends that her father beats her ‘the kind of beating someone goes to jail for.’ Our main characters think a little badly of her for betraying her parent. They help her convince the school her friends made it up, and it never happened.

This isn’t pleasant, but I think it’s true to their childish way of thinking. No one ever talks about a child’s rights not to get beat up, so how would they know it’s important? The impressions the adults put across is that it’s important for the children to obey adults, and definitely always obey their parents. Jess faces this daily, doing the majority of the chores for his distant parents while his older sisters mostly laze around. He knows this is unfair, but still does them.

On a more depressing note, we get little details about his borderline neglect by his parents. Like how his little sister gets to run out and hug his father, but he’d never get away with it. Or how he’s always careful about what he says (or whether he even talks) to his parents because they often seem tense.

I think that goes nicely with the theme that runs through this book: it’s OK to be different. At the start Jess is very driven by social rules, and is completely flabbergasted by how easily Leslie ignores them. This lines up with his distance from his parents, and their treatment of him. He doesn’t hug his father because he’s a boy, and too old for that. His parents put him in a more responsible role than his sisters (possibly because he’s the only male child). He’s asked to do more chores, and told off whenever the baby cries. He loves drawing, but hides it because his father doesn’t think it’s manly enough for a boy to be interested in.

His experience with Leslie gradually desensitized him to breaking of social norms. And I hope that after the book this translates into his family, reminding them he’s just a child, and giving him the courage to stand up for things he likes, like art. There are hints toward the end of the book that this is the case.

This is a beautiful, emotional book. Not the most beautiful and emotional one of its type. That one for me belongs to ‘A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness.’ If you like this kind of book and haven’t read that one, go read.

For more reviews of this book go to: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2839.Bridge_to_Terabithia

 

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