Bridge To Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
‘We need a place,’ Leslie called to him, ‘…just for us’
Jesse Aarons wants to be the fastest boy in the class, but when Leslie Burke moves into the neighbouring farm his life changes forever. Even though she runs faster than him, Jesse thinks Leslie is all right- she’s clever, funny and has good ideas. It is Leslie who invents Terabithia, the secret magical kingdom on an island across the creek where Jesse can escape his troublesome family. But one day tragedy strikes and Jess needs to find the courage to overcome his fears…
What We Thought:
About half of Smut Club had read this at some point in their distant past, or had at least seen the film. I had done neither, though I had heard about the book and its reputation for making everybody cry.
It’s only 160 pages long, so it was a one-sitting read and I settled down armed with a box of tissues as advised!
And didn’t shed a single tear.
Britannica saved me from being the only cold-hearted creature in the room by not crying either, so I didn’t feel quite so bad.
Everyone else found the reactions of Jesse heartbreaking and were a little traumatised by the events of the book.
I just couldn’t see it. I didn’t engage with any of the characters (apart from the dog, he was awesome) and it all felt a bit preachy and stilted to me. I kept waiting for the sad bit and then the book ran out.
We did agree as a group that some of the character relationships were a bit weird and elements of the story were a bit awkward but we did all love the world of Terabithia that Jesse and Leslie created. It’s just a shame that so little of the book takes place there. (Granted, the one moment that did make me feel a little sad took place in the sacred pine grove of Terabithia – i think that pine grove was actually my favourite character in the story.)
The book was written by the author for one of her sons after his friend was killed by a lightning strike, to help him deal with the senselessness of it all. Most of book club felt she caught the essence of that but it missed the mark for me. Perhaps I need to watch the film, as a lot of book discussion started ‘I just thought of that moment in the film where…’ and that seemed to hold a lot of the emotional power. Likewise ‘when I read it when I was a kid…’ also came up – maybe I just missed the optimal reading age. I will try giving it to Tori and see what she thinks.
It’s a decent idea, I just wonder if maybe it needed to be a bit longer, to cement the friendship before the tragedy, to expand Terabithia and its power and to make the aftermath a bit more terrible.
But then, maybe I have no soul because pretty much everyone else ever thinks it is brutal and tragic – who knows? Have you read it? What did you think?
My Personal Rating: 2.5/5*
Our next book lives up to our book club name and is actually smut! In August Smut Club is reading Bedtime Stories: A Collection Of Erotic Fairy Tales by Jean Johnson.