The Thing About Jellyfish just as much. It is chock full of scientific facts and interesting things to contemplate. The very bad thing the narrator does to her best friend is the type of gesture boys will find fascinating. Moreover, boys and girls alike will find their heart strings tugged by the universal emotions of grief. I was deeply moved and wept like a baby.
Suzy Swanson cannot fathom the death of her former best friend. It is unexpected. It is tragic. It cannot be explained by her mother's statement that "sometimes things just happen." Franny deserved so much more than 412 million heart beats. She deserved better than the final gesture Suzy made to her on the last day of sixth grade. It doesn't matter that Suzy's intentions were good. The fact is, their last moment together cannot be taken back and the grief of that overwhelms Suzy so much that she stops speaking.
Her silence troubles her parents, her therapist, and her teachers, but Suzy believes she might make a breakthrough if only she could talk to the right jellyfish expert. As she researches jellyfish, she begins to believe she has found the reason behind her best friend's demise. Now she must find her voice in front of her peers and convince the others.
This book took me back to the angst of middle-school transitions, when friendships and bodies begin to shift and change. Suzy, with her frizzy hair, her intense curiosity about the world, and her determination to cling to the way things were, captured my heart thoroughly. The author's power of voice was stunning. I completely agree with the Kirkus Review's comment, "A painful story smartly told, Benjamin's first solo novel has appeal well beyond a middle school audience." I cannot recommend this book enough. The writing will suck you in, hold you fast, and break your heart all at the same time.
Indeed, I recommended the book to Sean and he read it and enjoyed it as well.