Monday, June 29, 2015

Review: The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin

The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

BEA is long over but I'm still powering through my pile of ARCs. This one right here, The Thing About Jellyfish, was the first one I read. And I read every bit of it while sitting at the airport as I was waiting to go home.

No, hold on. I didn't just read this book. I devoured it.

And it's not one of those Hmm, maybe I'll sit down and casually read while I have SYTYCD going on in the background type of books either. I mean just look at what Ali Benjamin (no relation...I think) has stuffed in between the two covers just waiting for you:

After her best friend dies in a drowning accident, Suzy is convinced that the true cause of the tragedy was a rare jellyfish sting. 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.

Right? This is heavy stuff. Especially for middle grade. This is Dan Gemeinhart's The Honest Truth level of gut-wrenching awesomeness. I'm a slow reader on even the lightest of books and I tore through TTAJ in a couple of hours. And the reason I broke some sort of personal eye-page speed record is because I became so invested in Suzy's desire to prove her friend's death wasn't an accident. I've never had a best friend die, but I felt Suzy's pain so deeply. It was real to me. Benjamin does such an incredible job of putting us in Suzy's head and letting us catch glimpses of how her way-more-than-analytical brain works. And the way Benjamin weaves in the symbolism of jellyfish to so many things in Suzy's life is effortless and beautiful.

So, yeah. Five big stars to this one from me. And it may take me a while to get through the rest of my ARC pile, but I know at some point I'll come back to visit Suzy again.

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