Parzival is a young naive boy who is brought up by his mother as far away from knighthood and chivalry as she can control. Until he runs into three knights on the road and decided he too wants to become a knight. We learn that his mother recognizes the dangers of chivalry and how violent it is. Interestingly enough, chivalry is what brings Parzival to near ruin. He’s too polite and doesn’t ask an important question.  I can’t say much more about the plot of Parzival without spoiling the plot.

parzivalThere’s a lot of the stock elements of a medieval lay, Arthur and his court, religious iconography (i.e. Holy Grail) and your random supernatural events.  Oddly enough, Parzival ends up wandering the wilderness in order to complete his quest and restore himself back in good graces with society and he keeps running into his cousin.  His cousin is a young woman who has lost her husband in a joust with Parzival’s rival.  Throughout the who story she randomly encounters Parzival.  I don’t know what was going on in Medieval culture, but a  young woman who was without a male escort was really vulnerable.  Yet she seems to be ok showing up in random places to confront Parzival.  Weird. 

In the end, I think the story of Parzival is highly ironic and would really disappoint his mother.  Parzival “breaks” with chivalry, apparently, because he doesn’t want to intrude on a king’s medical condition.  Because he doesn’t ask about the king, he’s ejected from the castle and everyone he meets, including the random cousin, curses him for his “thoughtlessness” and he’s kicked out of Arthur’s court and made to appear unchivalrous.  Thus begins his quest to right this “wrong”.  Due to his questing, his wife has given birth to twin boys and has raised them all by herself, JUST LIKE HIS MOTHER!  Once again, due to chivalry, a mother has had to raise children by her self.  This point wasn’t developed a lot in the story, but it’s a plot line that I found hides underneath several medieval lays.  Chivalry isn’t the nice, clean, everyone-treats-everyone-with-respect behavior plan.  There’s a real dark side to it.

Bridge to Terebithia

The Bridge to Terebithia is another book I’ve never read before. And while it’s a YA book, and a young YA novel at that, it was still an all around good story.

Terebithia.jpgA girl moves in next door to a family that’s struggling to make ends me rural Maryland/Virginia.  The girl and her family are wealthy but are looking to get away from the rat-race of D.C.

The boy and girl soon become friends, although the boy was reluctant to be her friend because they’re at THAT age where boys can’t be friends with girls without being accused of “liking” them or being soft.  Luckily, Jesse doesn’t let all of this machismo business bother him and sees that Leslie, apart from her gender, is a good person and a friend worth having.

Leslie introduces Jesse to the world of Terebithia, a land she makes up but uses her imagination to recreate in their backyard.  Soon Leslie and Jesse develop a strong bond and show readers the power of friendship and the boundless fun you can have when you embrace your imagination.

One concern I had was the way Jesse’s female teacher takes him to a museum in D.C. by herself without consulting with his parents.  I feel like this might be an anachronism, showing a good teacher trying to give a curious student a taste of the outside world and the education that waits.  However, as a teacher in today’s environment, this good-meaning teacher would probably have  a lawsuit on her hands.

Paterson draws the readers into Jesse and Leslie’s friendship and then makes you feel all of the feelings when THE incident happens. An enjoyable read that shares the power of a good story and the impacts of good friends.