Mini-reviews: The Thing about Jellyfish + The Last Leaves Falling

pub 9/22/15 by Little, Brown Books
for Young Readers
MG - Contemporary
WOW. I very rarely pick up middle grade books unless it's a childhood favorite so when Estelle gave this to me, I was skeptical. Next thing you know, I'm crying over it on the bus ride to work! (Good thing I carry extra concealer in my purse.) It's beautifully written, honest and had a level of innocence that made the subject matter that much more heartbreaking. Suzy is this precocious young girl whose been having trouble coping. With change, with growing up and more importantly, with the recent death of her best friend in a drowning accident. She's retreated into her mind and has barely spoken a word to anyone since. She's convinced her friend must've died from a rare jellyfish sting and puts all her efforts into trying to prove it's true. As she sets out to find "proof", we learn more about Suzy's friendship with Franny, which was on the outs at the time of her death. They used to be two peas in a pod but the popular girls took an interest in Franny and vice-versa. She started noticing boys and getting into clothes. But not Suzy. She's a bit awkward but also just not there yet which I could understand. As much as the story is about grief, it's just as much about friendship and the growing pains young girls experience not only with those relationships but with themselves. I can't say enough how impressed I was by how the author handled this story and message.

Do I recommend? I do! If you love MG, you have to pick this up. And if you're usually not a MG reader like me, you still have to pick this up.

pub 5/5/15 by Simon & Schuster Books
for Young Readers
YA - Contemporary
Coincidentally, this is another book I picked up as per Estelle's recommendation. It's also another heartbreaking one. The Last Leaves Falling is about a teenage boy named Sora who has been diagnosed with ALS. It's rare, affects nerve cells in the brain and spine and it's incurable. His body is slowly deteriorating and he struggles not only with the changes in his body but loneliness as well. He's not in school. It's just him and his mom. So what does he do? He turns to internet chat rooms and develops friendships that spill over into real life. I have to say, that really surprised me! The book takes place in Japan (loved the peek into this culture!) so maybe it's a little more common over there. But I was quite surprised at how quickly the transition happened but also happy to see it. Because one, I do think it's becoming more common and two, Sora truly met two wonderful people and I loved watching their friendships blossom. Even though their individual situations are different, it's clear they entered each other's lives at a time when they really needed someone to get them. I will say that the book does take many sad turns and doesn't shy away from the medical and personal struggles Sora faces. It was tough at times for me to read because I was hyper-aware of how young he is but so worth taking the time to pick up.

Do I recommend? It's a powerful story and if you're interested, I would definitely recommend picking it up from your library.

1 comment

  1. Both of these stories sound really moving! I'm definitely planning to give both a shot (once my TBR has dwindled down a bit, that is). I'm so glad you wound up liking them both!


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