The story opens as we are introduced to Jess, a boy who comes from a poor family marked by conflict between the parents. As he goes to school, he is looking forward to hopefully winning a race. However, the race is actually won by Leslie, a new girl who started his school that day. Jess and Leslie form a friendship and play together in the woods, forming a magical kingdom of Terabithia which they access by crossing a bridge over a river. Their friendship deepens. However, tragedy strikes when Leslie dies in an accident when she tries to cross the river to go to Terabithia herself. The way that Jess has to accept this truth and come to terms with the end of his childhood marks the rest of the story, which finally ends when he takes his little sister and introduces her to Terabithia.