Jesse has a huge crush on his young music teacher, Mrs. Edmonds, and would do anything to be with her. The central crisis occurs when Jesse goes with Miss Edmonds to the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., and Leslie goes to Terabithia alone.
While Jesse is away at the museum, Leslie tries to swing across on the rope to Terabithia. As she is swinging, the rope snaps (as Jesse warned her it would) and she plummets into the creek, hits her head on one of the rocks, and drowns. This deeply shocks Jesse, who considered her death his fault, as he had considered inviting her to go with him to Washington D.C., but had decided against it so he could be alone with his Ms. Edmunds. Jesse overcomes his grief only with the strength and courage that his friendship with Leslie gave him. Their friendship helps Jesse realize what Leslie taught him, to open his mind to every possibility and face your fears with courage.
And Jesse attempts to deal with his grief by going back to Terabithia, and making a memorial for Leslie. He worries that Leslie will not enter Heaven because she does not believe in the bible and Leslie will go to hell. When his father follows him into the forest, Jesse begins to cry so his father brings him into his arms and consoles him. Jesse expresses his worry about Leslie through his sobs, with Jesse's father comforting him.
Leslie's grief-stricken parents decide to move away. Before they go away her father tells Jesse that Leslie loved him and thanks him for being such a good friend to her.
"Have you ever heard the story about the trolls under the bridges?"
"Just close your eyes...but keep your mind wide open."
"I just do not believe that God goes damning people to Hell. He's too busy running all this!"
"Whoa, look how high it got!"
"You are who you are. Not your parents."
- In the book and 1985 film, Leslie refers to her parents by their first names, but in the 2007 film, she calls them Mom and Dad.
- In the movie she has blonde hair and blue eyes but in the book she has brown hair and brown eyes.