The Thing about Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin
Reviewed by Samantha
This novel is a delightful read for readers of all ages. Suzanne Swanson, a remarkably curious twelve year old girl, is not convinced that the accidental death of her best friend was just a stroke of bad luck. She decides that there has to be a logical explanation for how the skillful swimmer drowned that summer day, and begins an investigation. While Suzy is a selective mute and does not talk aloud, she is anything but dull: her perspective of the world is full to the brim with beautiful imagery of the natural world, described in such a way that still leaves room for imagination. While her thoughts are sometimes unusually articulate for someone her age, her awkward preteen experiences are easy to relate to, and the issues she tries to work through—such as dealing with family, friendship, and the loss of a loved one—are familiar to many.
Despite lightly touching on some less-than-happy subjects, The Thing about Jellyfish is an adventurous tale that is very difficult to put down. The writing style is very natural in both description and dialogue, making it easy for even the most reluctant readers to immerse themselves in the story. Moreover, the supporting characters are pleasantly multi-dimensional, each having their own individual personalities, charms, and struggles. There are references to LGBT+ relationships and youth mental health, which highlight the diversity of human life. All in all, this novel is a breath of fresh air and definitely bound to be a favourite.