Reading for a Lifetime Together

December 13, 2009, 7:37 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized


.  .  .  . Jess Aarons is eleven years old and still needs to learn how to act like a proper young adult.  He loves to paint, draw, and run.  I feel somewhat sorry for him because his father does not really seem to pay any attention to him.  Therefore, Jess keeps on trying to be the fastest child in the fifth grade when school starts again in the fall.  Though this might not make any sense, if Jess can outrun every other boy, his peers will give him the attention that he’s wanted.  In his mind, his father will also give him attention.  Every morning, Jess practices his running skills; he runs from one part of the farm to the other, always in hopes of becoming the champion of the fifth grade male racers.  Unfortunately, on the first day of school, the boys’ tradition is messed up by a girl, Leslie Burke, who just moved into town (and also happens to be Jess’s new neighbor).  She also wants to race with the boys and stubbornly refuses to leave when everybody disapproves of her presence.  In the end, she is allowed to race because nobody thinks that she will win.  Unfortunately, they were all wrong.  Leslie beat them by a lot.  Time goes on and Leslie and Jess become friends.  Jess, along with the rest of the class, finds out that Leslie doesn’t have a television.  Everybody now looks down on her and this somehow strengthens their friendship.  Still, more time goes on and the two go to the forest and across the creek to the other side.  This is the place that they call Terabithia.  This is where they show no progression in life.  This is also where they spend most of their time together, plotting, talking, and playing.  They plot against the school bully; they talk about how Jess feels insecure; they play make-believe, fighting off their own imaginations, whacking at dust motes with branches, and punching at nothing but electrons as if their lives depended upon it.  I find all of this quite disturbing, and I think back to when I was in fifth grade.  I thought of what I did back then and how I acted.  I also tried to remember if I ever pretended like they did, but know that I never did; though I have played games at recess when I was younger, I have never played make-believe in my life.  I had always found it absurd to watch my friends run around holding imaginary swords and actually think that they were dying when they were “stabbed,” only to rise up once again when the other person wasn’t looking.

.  .  .  . Later on, Jess is invited to go to the art galleries in Washington with his music teacher.  He gladly accepts because he loves art, and, more importantly, he is in love with Miss Edmunds, the music teacher.  He thinks about Leslie for a brief moment, but quickly forgets about her and goes with Miss Edmunds.  Jess feels special because Miss Edmunds asked only him to go with her, and they both have a great day.  That is, until Jess gets back home and finds out that Leslie had died that morning.  Apparently, she was swinging across the creek on the rope that they had used to get to Terabithia, when it broke.  She hit her head on a rock and drowned.  Jess, of course, goes through all of the stages of grief when he finds out about this.  Naturally, he learns with time that Leslie is gone and that there is nothing he can do to get her back.  Therefore, knowing that he can only keep her as a memory, Jess makes an actual bridge to put across the creek.  This ensures that nobody can get hurt when crossing from one side of the forest to Terabithia.  Finally, Jess brings his little sister, May Belle, to Terabithia and makes her the new queen.  In the process, he ensures that she will also digress by not doing something productive in the time spent fighting off dust particles.

.  .  .  . Gary


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