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Thursday, November 5
The Thing About Jellyfish
My rating: ★★★½
Publisher: Little, Brown
Date of publication: September 22, 2015
Age: Grades 5 - 8
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Themes: death & grief, friendship, jellyfish,
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.
I do want to express that this book is well-written and the format was really well done, but all I can think is why do these acclaimed middle-grade books have to be SO DEPRESSING. And I'm not saying that MG authors should avoid the difficult topics. I can appreciate novels dealing with death of a loved one, disability, or whatever the case may be. But my goodness, inject a little bit of humor, give the reader some hope already! This book didn't have the pick-me-up I needed. It's more my personal reaction and feeling, so take it with a grain of salt.
It is well-written. It starts off after the death has occurred, so the whole focus is on Suzy dealing with the grief. And that grief is very multi-layered, with the author going deeper and deeper into the two friends' history as time goes on. The process of revealing bit by bit makes the story more gripping. It also helps the reader understand just why Suzy goes to such lengths to study jellyfish—the characters are believable and well done. I did question the ending a bit; Suzy flipped her grief switch off a bit too easily, in my opinion. But overall, excellently written.
So yes, it's got the technical elements down pat. But I was just SO depressed/disgusted by the end, that I forgot to love it. I feel mixed. I'm not telling you not to read it...just be prepared.
My preferred friend-died-and-I-don't-know-how-to-grieve book would be Lost in the Sun. Other readalikes are All the Answers and Secret Hum of a Daisy. If you want more of the girl-drama aspect and changing friends, there's How to Outrun an Alligator With Your Shoes Untied or Roller Girl or A Year Without Autumn.
Find it at your library or on Amazon