Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson: Book Review

I have an affiliate relationship with and Malaprop's Bookstore in beautiful Asheville, NC. I will earn a small commission at no additional cost to you if you purchase merchandise through links on my site. Read more on my affiliate page.
Bridge to Terabithia

3 Stars

Jesse Aarons is the class misfit. Something of a dreamer, and a talented artist, he just doesn’t fit in with his practical, competitive classmates. But Leslie Burke moves next door at the beginning of their fifth-grade year, and the two eventually become best friends. Leslie shows him that a different life is possible.

I’ll just say it–this book irritated me to no end. It was crawling with Southern stereotypes. For a book that’s trying to show that there’s a place for everyone in the world, I just really found that unacceptable. It seemed like most of the characters went by two names: May Belle, Joyce Ann, Wanda Kay. I’m sure there were more. And then there was the fact that everyone, except for Jesse, Leslie, and her family, couldn’t speak without throwing a double negative in there. It happens. It’s not as bad as this book makes it sound. And then there was the way that all the poor kids were stupid, narrow-minded, and ignorant, and their parents beat them when they weren’t in jail. Give me a break.

Had I read this when I was younger, I would probably have overlooked all of that and just focused on the story of the beautiful friendship between Jesse and Leslie and how she showed him that there is a bigger world out there and how we should always show each other kindness. That’s a great message. But I didn’t read it when I was younger and right now I just don’t care.

Reviewed May 25, 2009

Read an excerpt.

Find author Katerine Paterson on her website.

Buy Bridge to Terabithia at


Friday Flashback Reviews are a weekly feature here on The Introverted Reader. These are old reviews I wrote on GoodReads. Thanks to Angieville and her Retro Friday Reviews for the inspiration and encouragement!

I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop’s, my local independent bookstore, and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site.

Other Posts You May Enjoy:


  1. +JMJ+

    I know very little about Southern stereotypes, so this review was an eye opener about a novel I think highly of! I can see why such a book would be really annoying, though. If I ever read it again, I'll have your critique in mind.

    Thanks for the review!

  2. I'm sad you didn't like it too. I reread it when I was 22 and I still loved it. I need to reread it again but I am always scared to reread beloved children's books, as I might find what you did… that they don't live up (even though you weren't rereading.)

  3. I'm so sad you didn't like it. This is one of my fave books in the world! Oh, well… 🙂

  4. I think it's so interesting how our view of a book depending on when we read it. I think our experiences in life and better understandning of people i and personalities inform our reading. I think that had I read this book when I was a teenager or a little older I would have felt towards it as you think you would have: enjoyed the friendship between the main characters and the message about the world out there ready to be explored. But now we notice some of the more subtle details and don't like the, It's too bad the author felt the need to write such stereotypes into what otherwise sounds like a captivating story.

    I read books such as Watership Down and Orwell's 1984 way back when and liked them for what I got out of them then. But I want to read them again to see what the story means to me now.

  5. I spent much of my childhood (the '80s) abroad and missed many of the thing things my wife and our friends love (like The Breakfast Club, etc) so I can appreciate how a beloved book like this doesn't hold up to a read as an adult. I haven't read this myself and won't based on your comments — I think I'd be annoyed by the same things you were!

I love to hear from you! Please contact me (menu bar, above) if you're having trouble commenting.