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The Thing About Jellyfish

By Eeshika B.

The book I’m going to talk about today is The Thing About Jellyfish. It is a novel written by Ali Benjamin. This is a book that I feel is extremely underrated. The book is from the point of view of Suzy Swanson, a 7th grader. The chapters alternate between 1st person narration and 2nd person narration.

Here is the plot of The Thing About Jellyfish. Suzy’s best friend, Franny Jackson, died. She drowned on a beach trip. Before she died, she and Suzy stopped getting along the way they used to. Because of this, Suzy begins to blame herself for Franny’s death. When she comes across a tiny, invisible, but extremely dangerous jellyfish on a class trip to the aquarium, she is convinced that it is the reason Franny died. She begins to research and plans to meet with a man in Australia - an expert on this particular type of jellyfish - and prove that Franny died from a jellyfish sting. She is fueled throughout this journey by a combination of guilt and denial, but by the end of the story, she realizes that there are things out of your control. She lets herself heal and starts accepting the company of her friends and family, instead of isolating herself. She faces her memories of everything that happened leading up to Franny’s death and starts seeing them as they really are, a regular falling out between friends that could’ve been fixed over time, or that could have stayed the same. She stops blaming herself and tries to accept the truth.

Some thoughts I had about this book are how it combined the two different types of narration. Everything happening at that moment is in 1st person. But all of Suzy’s memories that chronicle the story of their friendship and falling out are in 2nd person, referring to Franny as “you”. This makes the memories seem almost like a request for Franny to remember what happened and come back so that they can both apologize and go back to being best friends. The whole book has a tone of sadness and determination - and at times, desperation - until the end, when you can see Suzy fall apart. Once Suzy falls apart, her family and friends help her pick up the pieces and heal. After this point, you can start to see subtle changes in Suzy’s character, and the book takes on a new tone: one of healing as well as determination. This time, the determination isn’t to prove that Suzy is innocent. The determination comes from Suzy’s conscious attempts to come out of her shell and re-enter the world without having to carry around a load of guilt. This is my review on The Thing About Jellyfish, by Ali Benjamin.

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