Bridge to Terabithia
Author: Katherine Paterson; Read by Tom Stechschulte
Publisher: Recorded Books
Length: 4.25 hours ; 4 discs
Obtained: Library audiobook copy
I've been meaning to read this for some time. I wanted to read it before watching the movie, what little I knew of it sounded interesting, and the timing was simply right. I actually checked it out during Banned Book Week since it's a challenged book, I just had other audiobooks going on at the time.
Toward the beginning of the book I was disappointed. I had thought it was a fantasy book, but instead it's a couple of kids using their imagination (in which they created a fantasy world, but it isn't the same thing). I got over that, though and was able to enjoy the rest of the book.
Some points of note:
It does have some language and frequent use of "Lord." I guess that's actually one of the reasons it has been challenged, and it's something to keep in mind.
I was certain the book had to be older once some references to money were made. Turns out, the book was originally published in 1977, so that explains everything.
I grew up in a statistically poor family by American standards. We didn't have a lot, but my ma has always been smart about money, and I never felt cheated of anything. Because of that, it tends to startle me when someone from a poor background is missing out on various things/experiences/etc. Despite the difference in the time, it was clear that Jess's family is further in poverty than my family has ever been. I found listening to the book somewhat eye-opening in that aspect.
Religion is a topic I prefer to avoid on this blog. It's a sensitive subject with many perspectives, and I'd rather not alienate anyone with my rather conservative viewpoint. That being said, it is an issue that crops up in this book. In particular, there's a scene where Jess's family goes to church with Leslie. To Jess's way of thinking, there is a God, the Bible is truth, and you don't need to worry about either of those points most of the year. Then Leslie speaks up... and turns everything over. To her, the story of Jesus is fascinating, the Bible's a storybook, and nothing is guaranteed where God is concerned. It's kind of a wake up and think for yourself moment. I felt conflicted since I personally fall somewhere between those two points. I believe there is a God, the Bible is truth, and everyone needs to make their own decisions about what they believe rather than just following in the footsteps of the generations before them. That's as much as I'm going to say on the matter.
Other issues like gender and bullying also play roles in the story. I don't have anything particularly insightful to say about them. It is enough to know they are there.
Now we come to the biggie. I'd prefer not to have spoilers, but this is a major point of the story. So read on with caution...
The issue of death, and moreover, the death of a child, plays a monumental role in this book. This is HUGE. For one thing, it is apparently one of the reasons for being challenged (I get why, but I disagree. Children are going to see death. They may as well learn about the emotions, etc. involved in a fictional book.) But also, my sister lost her best friend in a tragic accident at 16 years. I remember, when they told her the news, her running out into the hospital ER parking lot crying out that it was a lie. It wasn't true. And me chasing after her. So when one child meets the news of the other child (I'm trying to leave some suspense here), and reacts by believing it a lie, etc., I had major flashbacks. I was SOBBING.
The story is filled with thought-provoking points and lessons. And I suspect it's probably a great book for jump-starting discussion with a child.
An additional note:
I've found it incredibly difficult to find anything about this version of Bridge to Terabithia. Apparently most audiobook copies are narrated by someone else. I linked to the book itself on Goodreads so you can see a proper description and some other opinions. As for the copy I listened to, it is one of Recorded Books "Steady Readers." I'm not quite sure what that means other than the book being read "10 - 15% slower." I'd also like to state that I had no issues with Tom Stechschulte's reading. In fact, I think he portrayed Jess well.