After her best friend dies in a drowning accident, Suzy is convinced that the true cause of the tragedy must have been a rare jellyfish sting-things don’t just happen for no reason. Retreating into a silent world of imagination, she crafts a plan to prove her theory–even if it means traveling the globe, alone. Suzy’s achingly heartfelt journey explores life, death, the astonishing wonder of the universe…and the potential for love and hope right next door.
I didn’t realise this was a middle-grade book when I requested it, which is probably a good thing – since I don’t generally read MG, and would have missed out on a little gem of a novel.
From the blurb you can tell that the book is going to be sad – I was determined not to cry though, but by the last few pages I was weeping, so there’s that.
The book was a thorough, and I must admit, somewhat unwelcome reminder of how cruel kids can be to each other, and the hell of our schooldays, which for most of us were something we just had to get through until real life began. I promise you, I wouldn’t go back even if you paid me. There are no joyous school day memories for me, and starting uni was an utter relief. But let’s not make this about my depressing schooldays, shall we?
It’s tough being the strange kid – you know the one I’m talking about. While we all have our oddities, there’s usually someone that stands out as just a little weirder than the rest. And unfortunately, for our narrator Suzy, that’s her. She’s a science lover who can spew out random facts, but misses social cues which lead to her becoming something of an outcast. She’s also suffering from grief and guilt, as her former best friend drowned in the school holidays – and just prior to that, their friendship ended on a rather terrible note. The book progresses through Suzy’s struggle to try reconcile what happened to Franny, and her awful actions towards her on the last time she saw her alive.
I enjoyed the numerous metaphors the author made about science and how it relates to life – also, I know a helluva lot more about jellyfish than I ever thought I would – haha.
The family relationships were also well done – while Suzy’s parents are divorced, they both work together to try and get her the help that she needs. Suzy’s brother, while not living at home, also offers valuable words of support. When Suzy’s actions culminate in a rather dramatic fashion towards the end of the book, her family rally around her in the best way.
Everyone’s story is different, all the time. No one is ever really together, even if it looks for a while like they are.
All in all, a wonderfully written quick read, which will transport you back to the awkwardness of early adolescence while imparting some life lessons.
Free copy received from Pan Macmillan in exchange for an honest review.