Monday, January 4, 2016

MMGM: The Thing about Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin


This stunning debut novel about grief and wonder was an instantNew York Times bestseller and captured widespread critical acclaim, including selection as a 2015 National Book Award finalist!

After her best friend dies in a drowning accident, Suzy is convinced that the true cause of the tragedy must have been a rare jellyfish sting-things don't just happen for no reason. Retreating into a silent world of imagination, she crafts a plan to prove her theory--even if it means traveling the globe, alone. Suzy's achingly heartfelt journey explores life, death, the astonishing wonder of the universe...and the potential for love and hope right next door.


I've put off reading The Thing about Jellyfish, despite the many good things I've heard about it, simply because it's an 'issue' book.   Not that I have anything against issue books, I just get tired of them after a while because they are so sad.  While this book is not one of my favorites of the year, it is very well written and has an intriguing premise.  While grieving the drowning of a friend, Suzy struggles to deal with the sense of loss as well as the heavy sense of guilt she feels.  The last time she saw Franny, she'd done something that she now regrets.  Unfortunately, Franny's death makes it impossible to rectify the unkindness.  In addition, Suzy doesn't understand how Franny, who is a really good swimmer, could have drowned in the first place.  In order to cope with her pain, Suzy has stopped talking to pretty much everybody, so when she develops a theory about Franny's death that involves a toxic jellyfish, she doesn't share it with anyone, at least at first.  Suzy's judgment is seriously impaired by not only her age (13) but her pain and confusion which she doesn't share with anyone, even the therapist her mother is taking her to.  I was a bit nervous when I saw where Suzy's theory was taking her since it would have put her in harm's way if she had succeeded.  But the author dealt with it in an acceptable manner and the story ends positively.  I also found all the information about jellyfish to be fascinating and young readers who like animals are bound to as well.  I felt like all the different elements of the story came together smoothly and believably.

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