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|Thing about jellyfish|
Author: Benjamin, Ali
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.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 5.00
Points: 7.0 Quiz: 176566
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 6-8
Reading Level: 4.50
Points: 12.0 Quiz: 67065
Common Core Standards
Grade 5 → Reading → RL Literature → 5.RL Key Ideas & Details
Grade 5 → Reading → RL Literature → 5.RL Craft & Structure
Grade 6 → Reading → RL Literature → 6.RL Key Ideas & Details
Grade 6 → Reading → RL Literature → 6.RL Craft & Structure
Grade 6 → Reading → RL Literature → 6.RL Range of Reading & Level of Text Complexity
Kirkus Reviews (+) (06/01/15)
School Library Journal (+) (08/01/15)
Booklist (+) (08/01/15)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 08/01/2015 Gr 4–7—Suzy's best friend, Franny Jackson, was a strong swimmer. There is no way she could have drowned, at least in Suzy's mind. Suzy's determined search for a different explanation for her friend's death leads her to believe that Franny was stung by an Irukandji jellyfish. Having nothing but time, since she has no other friends and has decided to stop talking, Suzy sets out to prove her theory. This multilayered novel takes readers on several concurrent emotional journeys. Benjamin skillfully blends time and narrative to slowly reveal truths about Suzy: first and foremost that their friendship was over long before Franny's death. The girl she had once thought was her best friend decided it was time for a middle school social upgrade, choosing popularity over her awkward childhood pal. Suzy's decision to seek revenge and remind Franny of their bond backfires, destroying what was left of their relationship. Consequently, Franny's death is the impetus for the protagonist's mission of personal reconciliation for the guilt and regret she feels over their falling out. Suzy's fierce intelligence, compounded by her painful transition into adolescence, makes her a sympathetic and compelling character. Benjamin's sense of timing and delivery is extraordinary, as she blends the visceral experiences of Suzy's journey with an internal dialogue that is authentic and poignant. Though Suzy herself is oddly unique in her self-imposed social ineptitude and singular focus, the politics of friendships and changing values of young teens will resonate with readers. Benjamin's inverse approach to tragedy, placing the death at the beginning of the novel and storytelling through the grieving process, transcends the trope, as the story triumphs in the affecting realities of emotional response and resilience. VERDICT Strong readers of middle grade realistic fiction will fully immerse themselves in this superbly written, heartfelt novel.—Juliet Morefield, Multnomah County Library, OR - Copyright 2015 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 08/01/2015 *Starred Review* Suzy lost her longtime best friend twice: first at the beginning of sixth grade, when Franny shifted away from her and into a clique of “pretty girls,” and irrevocably during the following summer, when Franny drowned at the beach. Entering seventh grade and burdened by painful memories that she can neither express nor forget, Suzy almost entirely stops talking for many months. She becomes fascinated with jellyfish and intent on linking Franny’s drowning to a sting. Unable to connect meaningfully with those who are closest to her, she secretly, meticulously plans a trip to Australia to consult a jellyfish specialist in hopes of finding answers to her questions about Franny’s death. In the end, though, a conversation closer to home offers what she needs in order to deal with the experience, forgive herself, and move forward. Benjamin’s involving novel features clean, fluid writing that is highly accessible yet rich with possibilities for discussion. Science minded and fascinated by facts, Suzy is intellectually able to see the big picture but limited in her life experience. Her highly individual first-person narrative makes compelling reading. Facts and metaphors related to jellyfish are woven seamlessly into the narrative of this memorable story. An uncommonly fine first novel. - Copyright 2015 Booklist.