Living… on a farm in a small rural town. Jesse’s family struggles to pay the bills, and his weekends are usually spent doing chores around the house. His father, who works at a hardware store, favors Jesse’s sisters, all of whom treat Jesse with disdain – except his little sister May Belle, who adores him.
Profession… student.At ten years of age, Jesse cares most about drawing and the big race each day at recess. Jesse is furious with his mother when she throws away his old taped-up sneakers and gives him pink hand-me-downs from his sisters.
Interests… drawing and music. Though he mainly likes music for his attractive young teacher, Mrs. Edmunds.
Relationship Status… non-existent. But he has become friends with a new girl at school named Leslie Burke. He first met her when she beat him and all the other boys in the recess race. This doesn’t endear her to him, nor does her disarming cheerfulness. But eventually she breaks down Jesse’s walls and shows him an imaginary land called Terebithia -- “ancient forest full of magical creatures and friendly giants, anything you can imagine,” she tells him. “But you gotta look really hard.”
Challenge… fitting in. Jesse is a loner, and those who do interact with him torment him relentlessly. Eighth graders in the back of the school bus, led by the bully Janice Avery, pelt him with bread and jeer him…”Farmer boy!” During the school day, he constantly sets off his classmates’ radar-like “loser detector.” Thankfully, he has Leslie as his friend.
Personality… creative and introverted. Jesse is a talented artist, but bottles up his creativity along with the rest of his emotions because of the way he is treated by his peers and father. He ends up investing emotionally in Leslie because she is one of the only people that nourishes his artistic impulses and accepts him for who he is.
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