Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Bridge to Terabithia

I read Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson for the second time.  I had read it years ago to my children.  As I read it to myself this time, I'm seeing so many things that I don't think I saw last time.  Perhaps it has to do with where I am in my life right now.  Just as in the last 2 books I read, I'm seeing the theme of hope.  It's been a rough few months and year, I think I need to see hope.

As I read I noticed, from the beginning that Jess is always afraid.  He was afraid to not be in first place, he was afraid to be friends with a girl, he was afraid of water.  I'm not sure if afraid is the right word, I may change that later, but it's what I'm thinking right now.  He was also always longing for something else and he got it when he met Leslie.  (I think Jess helped Leslie too.  He was always very empathetic and he helped Leslie feel for others - but the focus in the book was really Jess.)

Jess changed his mind to be friends with Leslie in the music class while singing, "Free to be you and me."  I think that is interesting because together, Jess and Leslie were free to be themselves.

Throughout the book, there are references to water and the panic that the water makes Jess feel.  The description of scuba diving in Leslie's paper was enough to make him panic.  He also feels fear in the dark parts of the woods and interestingly, he describes it "almost like being underwater."  The woods that Jess and Leslie transform into the magical kingdom of Terabithia is only accessible by crossing a creek with a rope tied to a tree.  The creek has been dry for years, now there has been a lot of rain and the water is rushing.  Jess describes it like the parting of the sea by Moses and is scared of the thought of crossing.  Ironically, it is Leslie who dies while crossing the river.

Jess goes through the stages of grief.  He is in denial, he is angry, and finally he is accepting.  He accepts that Leslie has died, he accepts the love from his father, he accepts the friendship of Leslie's family, and he accepts his own family.  He is no longer afraid to be himself and overcomes his fears.  He builds a bridge over his fear.  My favorite part of the book is the end because now Jess is the bridge to help his sister overcome her fears.

It's early in the morning, I've had time to think of this, I'm not good at analyzing books.  So I might be totally off, but this is what I got out of it!

Katherine Paterson Interview

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