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The Thing About Jellyfish door Ali Benjamin
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The Thing About Jellyfish (origineel 2015; editie 2015)

door Ali Benjamin (Auteur)

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1,0115915,511 (4.19)14
Twelve-year-old Suzy Swanson wades through her intense grief over the loss of her best friend by investigating the rare jellyfish she is convinced was responsible for her friend's death.
Lid:Mspence9
Titel:The Thing About Jellyfish
Auteurs:Ali Benjamin (Auteur)
Info:Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (2015), 352 pages
Verzamelingen:Jouw bibliotheek
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Trefwoorden:Geen

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Suzy en de kwallen door Ali Benjamin (2015)

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This review written for the monthly newsletter of The Children's Book and Media Review"

“Jellyfish don't get bogged down by drama, by love or friendship, or sorrow. They don't get stuck in any of the stuff that gets people in trouble.”

When it comes to entertainment, I’m not a crier (real life is an entirely different story). There are only about four books that have made me cry. This is one of them.

After Suzy Swanson’s ex-best friend, Franny Jackson, drowns during the summer before 7th grade, Suzy stops talking. She decides that talking is pointless and stops. When her class goes to the aquarium and she sees a tiny, almost invisible but highly poisonous jellyfish, she is convinced that her friend died because of a jellyfish sting. Her whole life starts to focus on proving that it was a jellyfish that killed her friend, and she creates an elaborate plan to run away to Australia to get help from a jellyfish expert there.

The story is told through Suzy’s distinct style and personality. The story has Suzy’s observations about jellyfish as she does research to prove that it was jellyfish that killed her friend, quotes from her science teacher, and flashbacks that explain the history of her friendship with Franny. One of the most beautiful aspects of Suzy’s perspective is that she doesn’t truly understand what’s going on. As she focuses on jellyfish and not-talking, which for her means choosing not to fill the world with useless words, the perceptive reader understands that this is Suzy’s way of mourning the death of her friend and the earlier death of their friendship when Suzy has no power over the situation.

Her preoccupation with these things is what makes the book so heartbreaking. The reader understands why Suzy is doing these things, but Suzy herself does not. She is very much twelve-years-old and learning how confusing the world is. She doesn’t know how to help herself, or even know that she needs help, so she throws herself into not-talking and finding a way to get help from a jellyfish expert. Reading it made my heart ache for her, and when she finally starts to heal and let the people who love her into her life again, I couldn’t help but cry. Even days after I finished reading it, I couldn’t stop thinking about Suzy and her jellyfish.

The well-developed characters, complex emotions, focus on science, and the beautiful way it handles grief will capture the hearts of many of its readers. It is not surprise that The Thing about Jellyfish was nominated for the 2015 National Book Award for Young People's Literature.
( )
  vivirielle | Aug 4, 2021 |
children's middlegrade (main character is entering 7th grade) fiction with incidentally divorced parents and incidentally gay college-aged older brother; dealing with the death of a best friend scientific inquiry. REVIEWED FROM UNCORRECTED ARC. So it turns out that Franny, the girl who suddenly drowns over the summer, was more of an ex-friend to Suzy--they had had a falling out (due to Franny falling in with the "popular" kids) and Suzy was unable to make up with her before the incident, which makes the grieving process that much harder for Suzy. I appreciated that Rocco (Suzy's brother's boyfriend) kept saying that Middle School is just Terrible, period, but implies that it gets better; while Suzy's experiences (outside of her friend dying) were pretty typical, and I liked how Suzy makes friends with Justin (who used to act up but is better when he takes his ADHD meds--even though I have mixed feelings about ADHD meds). ( )
  reader1009 | Jul 3, 2021 |
This is a fantastic middle school book -- the kind that gets it. Suzanne (Zu, Suzy) Swanson has just started 7th grade with a big shadow -- her former best friend Franny drown at the end of the summer. As a result, she has consciously decided to stop talking: "...I'd started not-talking. Which isn't refusing to talk, like everyone thinks it is. It's just deciding not to fill the world with words if you don't have to. It is the opposite of constant-talking, which is what I used to do, and it's better than small talk, which is what people wished I did." (8) This book is her attempt to reconcile both the death and also how their friendship ended when the summer began. Suzy is the first-person narrator and she definitely has a different lens on the world -- a little childish, very literal (maybe on the spectrum?) and extremely intelligent. She alternates between the painful present of not fitting in with her typically cruel classmates and the past of the best moments of her 5 years of friendship with Franny -- until Franny started to change in 6th grade, liking boys and popular girls and knowing how to fit in and ultimately leaving Suzy in the dust. To add to Suzanne's mixed-up life, her parents got divorced around that time. She also has a gay brother who went off to college. Regarding the current state of her life she says: "Sometimes you want things to change so badly, you can't even stand to be in the same room with the way things actually are." Lots of issues to tackle here, none of them too new to this age and genre, but here they are handled so beautifully and poignantly without any of the predictability or treacle that other books rely on. The thing that helps Suzy move forward is jellyfish. "Jellyfish separate the world that was from the world that is....Jellyfish are survivors. They are survivors of everything that ever happened to everyone else." On a school trip to the aquarium (in which she describes her loneliness at being overlooked and forgotten touchingly) she wanders into the jellyfish room and is fascinated by what she sees and learns. True-to-Suzy-form, she gets a little obsessed ("there are 4 to 5 stings every second... twenty-three people are stung within 5 seconds") and begins to research them on her own and becomes convinced there is a link to Franny's death. This also doubles as her science research project and becomes a crazy (cray-cray) quest. Ultimately, she finds peace and understanding and acceptance of herself. One sweet boy, Justin and one true teacher, Mrs. Turton help her on this journey of self-awareness. If only all middle-schoolers could have such guides. I'm trying to decide if this is too young for 8th grade, but the depth would make it appealing -- there is lots of nuance here for a careful reader. Also probably best for 5th grade and up for the same reason. ( )
  CarrieWuj | Oct 24, 2020 |
Suzy Swanson and Franny Jackson used to be best friends until Franny started liking boys and hanging out with the popular girls. Suzy and Franny always told each other that they would give each other a signal if one of them started acting stuck up. So at the end of 6th grade after being ignored and humiliated by Franny, Suzy sends Franny a BIG message. Unfortunately the signal is not received as planned and the two never speak again. At the end of the summer Suzy learns that Franny has drowned. The guilt and grief that Suzy experiences is so deep that she literally stops talking. Her world has been crushed. The only thing that gets her through the year is Mrs. Turton's science class and her project on jellyfish. The book is structured like a science experiment - Purpose, Hypothesis, Background, Variables, Procedure, Results and Conclusion. Franny's death has been explained as "sometimes things just happen" which was not good enough for Suzy. Suzy's hypothesis for her science project is that the worst thing was caused by a sting from a Irukandji jellyfish. Suzy uses science to explain Franny's death. Going through the process of the scientific experience is cathartic and allows Suzy to come to terms with what happened to her friend. Suzy gains confidence and finds her voice as well as some new friends who understand her.

This was a great coming of age book. The format of telling the story by means of a scientific experiment was interesting. I also loved learning more about jellyfish. I read this over the summer for a book club with my 13 year old niece. ( )
  KatherineGregg | Sep 3, 2020 |
Suzy is a great protagonist. She is struggling with the fact that her best friend recently died, and also that really, they stopped being best friends shortly before that. Suzy is smart and excited about things she thinks are cool, but wasn't growing up in the same direction as her friend and couldn't understand why Franny would abandon her for boys and fashion. I feel you, Suzy. It sucks to lose friends for reasons that you can't fathom. When Franny died, Suzy stopped talking and obsessed over an idea that all of a sudden sounded so plausible to her, that Franny must have been stung by a jellyfish because she was a great swimmer, there's no way she could have drowned. Suzy's grief put her inside of herself, to the point where she was an echo chamber without a voice of reason.
I like Suzy's family, who love her and are very supportive. Also her brother is gay which is an unimportant piece in the entire plot, which is greaaaaat. Also jellyfish are cool. ( )
  katebrarian | Jul 28, 2020 |
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» Andere auteurs toevoegen (6 mogelijk)

AuteursnaamRolType auteurWerk?Status
Ali Benjaminprimaire auteuralle editiesberekend
Fan, EricIllustratorSecundaire auteursommige editiesbevestigd
Fan, TerryIllustratorSecundaire auteursommige editiesbevestigd
Franco, SarahVertellerSecundaire auteursommige editiesbevestigd
Lawrence, MarcieOmslagontwerperSecundaire auteursommige editiesbevestigd
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for curious kids everywhere
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A jellyfish, if you watch it long enough, begins to look like a heart beating.
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Twelve-year-old Suzy Swanson wades through her intense grief over the loss of her best friend by investigating the rare jellyfish she is convinced was responsible for her friend's death.

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