Bridge to Terabithia

An enemy is one whose story we have not heard.
~ Gene Knudsen Hoffman

Bridge to Terabithia - What a wonderful and deep children's story - a real children's story. I say real because the story illustrates how relationships and people change and are not set in stone. This is so refreshing.

Most kids stories -- most stories in general -- seem to follow a rigid formula where the good guys remain good, and bad guys remain bad. In contrast, in the Bridge to Terabithiam some of the bad guys (or gals) turn out to be real people; real people who changed and who turned out to have the same vulnerabilities as anyone else. Try to find that in a typical TV show, movie, or novel. So refreshing!

Spoilers ahead!

In another sense the story in the Bridge to Terabithia was real because of its non-spiritual portrayal of death. I fully expected Leslie to return at the end, at least in the imagination of Jesse. But death was not treated that way in this story. Instead, the pain, the blame, the permanence and unfair nature of death were told straight, not glossed over or avoided.

Bridge to Terabithia presents life's beauty and unfairness. But the message doesn't stop there. We must go on, just as Jesse went on after Leslie's death. It's not easy. We're somehow emptied by the loss of our friend. But eventually, after we grieve, we must rejoin life so that we can carry the memories of those we lost into our new adventures.

Origins of the Story

The story was inspired by real life events. In August of 1974, Lisa Hill, a friend of the author's son David, was struck by lightning at a beach and killed. A tree dedicated to the Lisa is planted in a memorial outside of Takoma Park Elementary School in Maryland. The creek running through Takoma Park (Sligo Creek) probably inspired some settings in the Bridge to Terabithia book.

Bridge to Terabithia [Book]
Bridge to Terabithia [DVD]

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