Suzy has just started seventh grade when she realizes she’s become invisible—not really invisible, but close enough—by being very quiet.
She hasn’t said one word since her best friend, Franny, died while swimming in the ocean, a tragedy that didn’t reach Suzy for two whole days. The girls had grown apart in the months before the accident; actually, Franny had done all the growing apart. Franny used to love hearing Suzy spouting facts, but all that changed, and the newly boy-crazy Franny dumped Suzy for the popular girls. Both girls behaved badly in the fallout, one spitting and the other sabotaging a locker with disks of frozen pee. Yes, pee.
Now that Franny’s gone, Suzy digs for answers. How could an excellent swimmer like Franny have drowned? Why would Suzy’s mother throw up her hands with a “sometimes things just happen”? Suzy is determined to get to the bottom of her friend’s death, and everything points to venomous jellyfish. As Suzy learns, people are stung by jellyfish 23 times every five seconds. When Suzy tries to sneak off and visit a jellyfish expert in Australia, the plan—and Suzy’s silence—comes apart.
Ali Benjamin’s debut novel surprises with a mix of schoolgirl drama and profundity after the loss of a friend. It convincingly and positively explores issues of divorced parents and gay siblings, adding greater depth to an already important novel.
Billie B. Little is the Founding Director of Discovery Center at Murfree Spring, a hands-on museum in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.