This week’s installment should probably have been posted on Thursday, because it is totally a throwback to my childhood. As you probably know, I’m on a personal quest to read every book I own, and this week’s book also happens to cross over into another one of my personal challenges. Starting this month, I’m trying to reread one book from my childhood a month for a year. I chose to start this smaller quest with Katherine Patterson’s Bridge to Terabithia.
The first time I remember reading this book I was in 2nd grade. My grandfather had just passed away and I was familiar with the concept of death, so my parents didn’t think the content was too far over my head. I remember connecting with both Jess and Leslie at different points in the book, but also wanting to have the relationship Leslie had with Bill and Judith, too. This book evoked complex emotions for a 7 year old, let me tell you… It still does, almost 30 years later. This time when I went back to read the book, I was surprised by the depth of the characters and the emotional connection that they stirred in me. Now, I know I’m still grieving over my dad, and that will always have an impact on how I view death and dieing, but Ms. Patterson handled the issue like no other in my opinion. She gives a juvenile audience a touching way to identify with the diverse emotions and myriad of questions that surround the loss of someone very close to you. I loved the way that the book touched on the uncertainty and the eventual overcoming of the trauma associated with an unexpected loss. Jess grew in so many ways throughout the book, and that showed how much Leslie had touched him. This type of connection and the growth that comes from it is the most touching part of the book, for me, because I strive to see those changes within myself each day since I lost my father.