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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin

Genre: Middle-Grade
Publication Date: Aug 18th 2015
My Goodreads Rating: 4/5
Source: Library Copy

Suzy is convinced that her best friend, the incredible swimmer, couldn't have drowned to death. She does some research and realizes that Suzy might have been stung by a rare jellyfish. She stops talking, communicating only with herself and her research, and goes through her first year in middle school as a child determined to prove the police wrong.

Her shock and grief resonate with the reader through every page, her sheer determination sets her apart from all other grieving characters and her belief in her friend's abilities strikes the audience. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome on page, Suzy Swanson!

The Thing About Jellyfish takes its readers on a wild adventure that factually attempts to prove a young girl's belief in her friend's abilities. Ali Benjamin produces a point of view, never before seen from a child character. A worldly, determined, exploring point of view that really dominates the entire novel- in a good way.

Her characterization of Suzy is such that the loss of her friend renders Suzy both speechless and nearly emotionless. When Suzy reminisces over her late friend (Franny)'s time with her, the passages seem like a third person article rather than a young girl's story of grief. This however, adds a lot to the book, highlighting the depth of Suzy's pain.

She is one of the few characters  I've seen, (in a novel about death) who suffer hugely from the death, while understanding and acknowledging that at the time of death, she wasn't nearly as close to her "Friend" as she used to be. This complex creates an intricate pattern of non-linear re-tellings of Suzy's time with Franny.

Ali Benjamin really stunned me with her debut middle-grade novel, and I can't wait for her to release her next book, whatever it might be! There has been some debate about whether or not this is a middle-grade book. My school library put it under Young Adult Fiction, but I'm going to say that this is a book that 11 year olds and 31 year olds alike can enjoy!

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