Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Beautiful Story

Behind him came the baripity of the pickup, but he couldn't turn around. He tried to run faster, but his father passed him and stopped the pickup just ahead, then jumped out and ran back. He picked Jess up in his arms as though he were a baby. For the first few seconds Jess kicked and struggled against the strong arms. Then Jess gave himself over to the numbness that was buzzing to be let out from a corner of his brain.
Katherine Paterson, Bridge to Terabithia, (New York: HarperTrophy, 1977), 156-158.

My wife and I have a frequent argument over movies and books. She uses both to escape and generally does not like stuff that makes her cry or feel bad. I, on the other hand, like stories that spark emotion within me. Whether its joy, sorrow, happiness, sadness, anger, or shock - I like stories that move me. To that end, I have always loved Bridge to Terabithia. Along with reading Charlotte's Web this weekend, I took the opportunity to read Bridge this weekend. I remember exactly why I loved it. It is so easy to understand the emotions and feelings of Jesse Oliver Aarons Jr. His feelings of inadequacy, loneliness, turmoil, joy, friendship, lack of courage, lack of strength, competitiveness, anger, and raw emptiness all speak so true from the page of Paterson's great work. I love his friendship with Leslie Burke and how much she brings out the best in him. I cried (once again) over her death and the raw emotion and pain felt by Jesse. The passing of the torch to his sister May Belle and his discovery of understanding his enemies Janice Avery & Mrs. Myers.

However, the part of the book that always gets me the most is the scene sketched by Paterson above. Jesse never seemed to see eye to eye with his Dad and for most of the book you see Dad as cold & distant. He is there - but he spends so much time working and doing what he can to provide, that as the reader you feel the distance between the two. Jesse longs for the closeness of the relationship he had with him when he was just a little boy. And then in an instant you see this incredible depth after Jesse finds out Leslie has died. He runs away and his Dad chases after him and swoops him into his arms. I can just feel my own Dad wrapping his arms around me as I struggle to make sense of my own shattered world of hurt, pain, and lack of understanding. You feel the love and care that Jesse's Dad obviously always had for him - even if he did not do well with showing it. And I found myself crying over the absolute beauty of the scene.

A beautiful book. One of the best I have ever read. I am thankful I decided to spend the weekend traveling "back in time" to the books of my youth.