Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Thing about Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin

I had a good cry earlier today.  It was after I woke up at 5:20 am to finish reading Ali Benjamin's The Thing about Jellyfish. I had no idea it was going to be a six tissue book, but it truly was.  In fact, it probably could have been more but I sniffled quite a bit.

Suzy and Franny had been best friends since kindergarten.  In sixth grade they drifted further and further apart until they were no longer friends. Then on one of the last days of school, Suzy does the unthinkable to Franny to remind her of their friendship.  But instead of bringing them back together they spend the summer apart.

That August Franny drowns.  How could this possibly happen?  Franny was such a good swimmer, even when she was little.  Suzy turns to the jellyfish for answers. Silently determined she concocts a plan to prove she is right and has complete confidence she can do it.  "The trick to anything is just believing you can do it.  When you believe in your own ability to do something, even something scary, it gives you an almost magic power. Confidence is magic.  It can carry you through everything." (p.285)

After Franny's death, Suzy stops talking.  We hear her thoughts but no one else.  At one point, Suzy reaches out and calls Franny's mom. When they are both silent, Suzy is ok with that. "It's peculiar how no-words can be better than words.  Silence can say more than noise, in the same way that a person's absence can occupy even more space than their presence did." (p. 277)

What a great book about friendship, love, forgiveness, family and coming of age.  Just make sure you have time to indulge (you won't want to put it down) and a full box of Kleenex nearby.

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