Welcome back to Nostalgic Friday! Since I love all things historical (culturally, physically, and personally) I do a post on Fridays honoring some awesome book that is a bit older. Many of them are books I enjoyed in my teens and others are books that I discovered as an adult that I think are relevant to YA readers.
Jess Aarons' greatest
ambition is to be the fastest runner in his grade. He's been practicing
all summer and can't wait to see his classmates' faces when he beats
them all. But on the first day of school, a new girl boldly crosses over
to the boys' side and outruns everyone.
That's not a very
promising beginning for a friendship, but Jess and Leslie Burke become
inseparable. Together they create Terabithia, a magical kingdom in the
woods where the two of them reign as king and queen, and their
imaginations set the only limits.
First published in June of 1977, this book is without a doubt, one of the greatest books of my childhood. A coming-of-age story set in the rural South, Bridge to Terabithia tracks the unlikely friendship & bond between artistic Jess & his new neighbor Leslie. Together these two build a secret fortress in the woods that they call Terabithia. Terabithia is a fantasy land that they rule & defend together, but it's also a place for them to learn more about themselves & how to deal with the realities of their lives. The duo spends as much time together as possible, causing a bit of scandal because of their mixed-gender relationship. As the story progresses & we really see the characters starting to come into their own, tragedy strikes and sends their fantasy land into ruins.
Many important lessons can be learned from this book for any reader. It can help kids learn to cope with their personalities & place in the world, while still challenging them to reach beyond what is "expected" of them. Even better though, this story is about the importance of love and friendship. As social creatures we must interact with others, but it's who we interact with that I think has the greatest influence on us.
Growing up, my best friend was a boy. We were born 22 days apart & grew up next door to one another. We were absolutely inseparable. When I read this book as a kid, I gave it to my best friend to read as well. He thought it sounded just like us, except he would never let anything like that happen to me. While we may have grown up & apart (mostly due to my moving away after my parents' divorce) I will never forget just how much impact we had on each others' lives for years.
So here's the basic point you need to get...you should read this book. It's a timeless tale that will have you laughing & crying & reaffirming your faith in friendship. Please, take a moment & thank a friend, every small interaction counts.