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Bridge to Terabithia
by Katherine Paterson
Jesse Aarons Timeline and Summary
Jess is training to be the fastest runner in the fifth grade, but he's also pretty lonely and doesn't have friends. His new neighbor, Leslie, wants to be friends, but he's not interested because she's a girl. At school, though, he stands up for her when she wants to run in the big race, too. But then she surprises him by whipping them all. Even though he gives up his dream of being the fastest runner, he's excited to start becoming friends with Leslie. Together, they envision the magical world of Terabithia, which you get to by swinging on a rope over a creek. Leslie helps Jess think of a creative way to get back at Janice who's bullying his little sister. He's worried about what to get Leslie for Christmas, but then is able to give her a puppy. He and Leslie have a fight when he feels left out when she's off helping her dad fix up their house, but it's all resolved when he gets to help too. The tables are turned when Jess gives Leslie advice on comforting Janice, when the former bully needs their help. Bad rainstorms keep Jess and Leslie from going to Terabithia. At Easter, Leslie goes to church with Jess's family and pushes Jess to question his faith for the first time. Jess thinks the rain's too dangerous for going to Terabithia after that, but forgets when the music teacher invites him to go to a museum in DC for the day. He goes and has a fabulous time, but when he gets home he learns that Leslie went to Terabithia without him and died. Jess is grief-stricken and can't believe it. He mourns. When he tries to go back to Terabithia, May Belle follows him and almost dies in the creek too. He saves her and realizes what Leslie taught him. He builds a bridge to Terabithia, so he and May Belle can access it safely and keep its magic alive.