Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin

4 Stars

^^^That’s a boldface lie. I read this book months ago, but I suck at keeping up with reviews so I’m just now getting around to saying something about it. First things first – this is a MIDDLE GRADE novel. (In case you’re wondering – I rate books according to how I feel they hold up when compared with others in their genre.) That being said, this is a very important middle grade story and y’all can just color me impressed.

At surface level The Thing About Jellyfish is the story of Suzy – a young girl who is informed that her best friend died in a drowning accident. Convinced that could not be the case because said friend was a good swimmer, Suzy believes the “drowning” must have really been an altercation with a jellyfish and becomes determined to meet the world’s foremost experts on the creatures in order to prove it . . .

This story was so much deeper than that, though. It was an amazing journey through the grief process – not only through the death of Suzy’s friend, but also when the story cut through the first layer to talk about the changes that happen as children morph from elementary schoolers to pre-teens and middle graders. It tackled the issue of finding yourself “on the outs” with your former bestie, of finding yourself in general, and was chock-full of sage advice . . . in disguise:

“Having venom doesn’t make a creature bad. Venom is protection. The more fragile the animal, the more venom it needs. So the more venom a creature has, the more we should be able to forgive that animal. They’re the ones who need it most.”

Highly recommended to youngsters (and their oldster counteparts).

ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Thank you, NetGalley!

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