The Seven Stages of Grieving (the thing about jellyfish – A Book Review)

the thing about jellyfish
Author: Ali Benjamin
Published: 2015

The Thing About Jellyfish

My Rating: Full boltFull boltFull boltFull boltFull bolt

2/25

 

A jellyfish, if you watch it long enough, begins to look like a heart beating.

Suzy “Zu” Swanson knows a lot of things. A lot of things that most people don’t. Like there are 150 million jellyfish stings a year. That’s 411,000 stings a day. 17,000 stings every hour. She also knows that on some technical level, everybody is made of stardust. What she doesn’t know, doesn’t understand, is how Franny Jackson’s life was cut so short before she could make up for that bad thing she did to her. It doesn’t make sense that her best friend is gone.

To make things right, Zu is determined to figure out how this could’ve happen and who the villain is. To do that she forms a plan to travel across the world to figure out the truth about how she died. But, maybe all of the answers are closer than she realizes…

Sometimes when we feel most alone, the world can open up in mysterious ways.

 

This book marks 2 out of 25 authors, from my New’s Year’s resolution, that I’ve never read from before. I was very excited, too. This is actually Ali’s debut novel and she has a few more on the way and I’m looking forward to them.

the thing about jellyfish

I can’t express enough how much this book made me feel. I was incredibly moved to tears, both happy and sad. So much happened on Zu’s journey of grieving the loss of her friend. This story was so spectacularly moving. My heart was deeply moved. The style, the setting, the characters, all of it was perfect.

It’s been a long while since I’ve been in the mind of a kid. So long that I forgot how inquisitive and determined they can be and that’s exactly what Zu is. She’s strong-headed and deeply intelligent. She’s motivated by facts, particularly science. Her way of going about grieving was so interesting because it wasn’t ordinary. I learned so much from her and was greatly reminded how straightforward kids can be.

the thing about jellyfish

The setting of this book does follow Zu to school and other places, but mostly we’re in her head. We’re drawn back to flashbacks of important events between her and Frankie as they were growing up, moving to the present. Each flashback clears up the fog of this mystery about how Zu feels so guilty and why she must find a villain to blame. It was incredibly heartwarming and wrenching. Her entire mind is based on facts that she learns more than emotion because she doesn’t understand this kind of loss and it’s experienced it with her firsthand, through her eyes. The entire style of the novel follows the scientific method, which emphasizes how Zu’s thought process works.

During this journey of Zu’s, she meets two others who, unlike everybody else in her class, find her to be very interesting and try to break through her thick exteriors, which was entirely sweet. I seriously could stop the “AWWWWWE!!” that came spewing out of my mouth so loudly. They helped make the story even more relatable. For those who remember how hellish it was in middle school, remember what it was like to feel completely on the outside and understand how special it was to have those couple of friends that could and would sit on the outside with you and be all weird like you, too. It’s how you found your crew, the people who going to be with you through thick and thin and make school bearable.

the thing about jellyfish - Giphy

This book struck me on such a personal level. Like Zu, when I was in seventh grade there was a boy who died. I remember he was in my science class. We weren’t close friends, but the feeling that Zu has throughout the book was the exact same. He was a nice person so I was confused when I found out about his death.  It was a complete disillusionment. How can someone so small and young be there one day and not the next? I still think about him from time to time and wonder what it would be like if he were still here.

 

I couldn’t get enough of this book. I cried, laughed, and was even jumping around with the giggles as I read. I have to say, I truly hope this book comes to the big screen. It’s so special and I really believe that it delivers such a moving message about grieving; that it isn’t easy to understand how a child works through it. Sometimes it takes the Scientific Method.

 

Quotables:

“During the first three weeks of seventh grade, I’d learned one thing above all else: A person can become invisible simply by staying quiet.” (Zu, p. 7)

“The stars themselves were inside up. We were made of stardust.” (Zu, p. 228)

“Who knows. Maybe everybody’s end isn’t the day they actually die, but the last time anyone speaks to them. Maybe when you die you don’t really disappear, but you fade into a shadow, dark and featureless, only you outlines visible.” (Zu, 278)

“Humans may be newcomers to the planet. We may be plenty fragile. But we’re also the only ones who can decide to change.” (Zu, p. 312)

 

More to come soon…

-K.

 

P.S. Song today? Fireflies by Owl City.

 

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Thoughts? Tell me in the comment section below.

 

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Who Let That Dirty Dog In Here? (Because of Winn-Dixie – A Book Review)

Because of Winn-Dixie
Author: Kate DiCamillo
Published: 2000

Because of Winn-Dixie

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My name is India Opal Buloni, and last summer my daddy, the preacher, sent me to the store for a box of macaroni-and-cheese, some white rice, and two tomatoes and I came back with a dog.

During the summer that Opal and her father move to Naomi, Florida, she finds a mutt running around the Winn-Dixie grocery store. Opal saves the dog from the pound and he does so much for her. Because of Winn-Dixie, Opal learns ten things about her mother, who walked out when she was three, from her father. Ten things for each year that Opal has been alive. The summer is hot and life changing for everyone that meets Winn-Dixie. Opal certainly isn’t the only one learning a couple things from this fun-loving dog.

(I keep my reviews as spoiler free as possible. I’ll warn you if I’m about to get revealing.)

I can remember the amount of times I was the new girl; a few times in elementary school until fifth grade and then when I went off to college. It’s scary and nerve-wracking because you don’t know anybody and everybody stares and whispers and determines whether you’re friend material or not. It is uncomfortable. Opal and Winn-Dixie squash all of that. They inspire me, even to this day, because the pair are bold, kind, and friendly to every person they meet. They have a magic in bringing people together and making them feel special throughout this book.

If you haven’t read the book then you’ve probably seen the 2005 movie of the same name. While most movies don’t seem to do their books enough justice, this one was quite special. AnnaSophia Robb, the same girl who was in the movie adaptation of Bridge to Terabithia, took up the role of Opal. The movie did a wonderful job in recreating the story, capturing the scenery I always imagined as well as what Winn-Dixie looked and acted like.

BoWD - Giphy

There is so much that can be learned from this book. It’s why I recommend it to a lot to those that come in my store searching for that coming-of-age book. Forgiveness, acceptance, and kindness are only a few of the elements. This book really is heartwarming and I’m glad I was able to find my copy and reread it. I’ve had it since the fourth grade and my name and phone number are still on the inside cover, and yes, my handwriting is still really crappy. LOL. I can write, I just can’t write. Not well anyhow and I’ve been trying for years.

I recommend this book to every person no matter how old they you are. It’s truly beautiful and inspirational. I just don’t have anything bad to say about it. This book earned its awards rightfully. I can’t remember the teacher that picked this book out for me, but I’m incredibly grateful.

Quotables:

“Opal, I believe Winn-Dixie has a pathological fear of thunderstorms.” (preacher to Opal, p. 76)

“There goes the preacher’s daughter, visiting the witch.” (Stevie to Dunlap, p. 89)

“It is a sorrow-filled world.” (Miss Franny to Opal, p. 115)

More to come soon…

-K.

P.S. Song today? Boondocks by Little Big Town.

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Ghosts Don’t Throw Rocks (Nancy Drew: Ghost Stories #2 – A Book Review)

Nancy Drew: Ghost Stories #2
Author: Carolyn Keene
Published: 1985

Nancy Drew 

My Rating: Full boltFull boltFull bolt

 

When I thought about creating a collection of ghost stories I knew that Nancy Drew would face her most intriguing challenge yet as a young detective. You see, Nancy doesn’t not believe in ghosts; but the many unexplained happenings in each mystery almost leader her to think otherwise.

-Carolyn Keene

A creepy vampire in a cave. A ghost haunting a hospital room. A witch that helps the dead talk to their living loved ones. Nancy Drew takes on cases that seem to defy the natural world. With her best friends’ Bess and George, they’ll solve some spooky mysteries. Will they be able to solve these terrifying cases or are they in over their heads?

 

This book includes:

-Vampire Cave

-Dark Crypt

-Geist of Meyer’s Mall

-Witches’ Brew

-Phantom of Room 513

-Forest of Fear

 

Yep, I read Nancy Drew. I found this book back on the $.10 shelf in my college library and every once in a while I digress to younger days. Plus, it said ghost stories and though I haven’t read Nancy Drew until now, I know one key fact about her. She doesn’t believe in anything supernatural.

Much like Scooby Doo, Nancy always finds the crook at the end of the mystery. I can’t help that I was so hopeful that there’d be that one mystery that she couldn’t explain, like Scooby Doo and Zombie Island. Even the gang had the occasional unexplained phenomenon. I won’t give away what the stories held because I might as well give them away and I don’t want to do that to you.

Scooby-Doo Classic and Modern

One particular thing had me irked as I read though. There were slight handed comments from characters about Nancy’s friends, Bess and George. They made my jaw drop and not for any kind of good reason. A few times, Bess’s weight had been rudely mentioned as if to say she was overweight or that she eats too much. I’m a woman who LOVES food. LOVES! And I don’t tolerate weight shaming. It’s so cruel. I was very surprised to read that and felt so terrible for Bess. Then a character in one of the short stories commented that George was such a weird name for a girl. My head cocked to the side and I squinted, rereading that segment with such dismay. I would’ve loved to see Nancy stick up for them, but she had been in on a couple of these moments.

What I can take away from all of this is that times have certainly changed and I’m glad.

Each story was quick and cute and the book was finished in a day. Keene was very articulate and made sure the reader knew exactly what was going on. Am I a mystery reader? Decidedly, no. The genre just isn’t for me. I enjoy a little mystery, but only when it’s entwined with another genre that I like. I think the only exception I ever made to the mystery genre was Veronica Mars and that’s because she’s so witty and sassy. The complicated lovefest between her and Logan Echolls is something to behold as well. It certainly does make the heart melt. I think I need to go re-binge the series.

Nancy Drew

If you’re a Nancy Drew fan than take a peek at this collection of short stories. It’s like getting a nice bookshot out of the classics section.

 

More to come soon…

-K.

P.S. Song today? Try Everything by Shakira.