Tuesday, March 1, 2016

March's Book of the Month--The Thing About Jellyfish

March’s Book of the Month is a heartfelt middle grade novel, THE THING ABOUT JELLYFISH, by Ali Benjamin.

Suzy Swanson is devastated when her ex-best friend Franny drowns the summer before seventh grade. Suzy cannot believe there is no rational, scientific explanation, that "sometimes things just happen.” It’s a terrible answer. On a class field trip to the aquarium, Suzy learns about the lethal Australian Irukandji jellyfish, is convinced that a sting from one caused Franny’s death, and becomes obsessed with proving this is the case.

Woven into Suze’s present day trials in middle school is a portrait of her friendship with Franny, how it grew and changed over the years as the girls themselves grew and changed. Though very different, they are inseparable from the time they meet at the pool when they are five, until the day in fifth grade that Franny admits to liking Dylan—it’s all downhill from there, and we see how the relationship unravels.

Shortly after Franny dies, Suzy decides to stop talking, and the story is very much about the importance of communication. It’s also about science and jellyfish (obliviously), about being different and finding your place, and it’s about Diana Nyad.

It’s also warm and sweet and prickly and well-crafted.

And brave and awful and I’ll stop now!


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