Blog tour: The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin - A song of words (a different sort of review)
1. “ A jellyfish, if you watch it long enough, begins to look like a heart beating. It doesn't matter what kind: the blood-red Atolla with its flashing siren lights, the frilly flower hat variety, or the near-transparent moon jelly, Aurelia aurita. It's their pulse, the way they contract swiftly, then release. Like a ghost heart - a heart you can see right through, right into some other world where everything you ever lost has gone to hide.” - The Thing About Jellyfish, Ali Benjamin
One of the biggest rules of writing is that you should never, ever start your own post with another person’s quote.
I say screw that. Rules are, after all, meant to be broken, right?
You see, sometimes the words of someone else is so beautiful, that the person’s writing in itself will better convey what you could possibly say in a review. Ali Benjamin’s The Thing About Jellyfish is one such book.
This read – a book about denial, grief and coming to terms with loss – is quite possibly one of the most beautifully written books about dealing with the abovementioned themes.
In today’s post, and as part of the SA blog tour for The Thing About Jellyfish, I thought I’d do something a little different.
I’ve always thought that the relationship between music, writing and books go hand in hand, which is why, instead of a conventional review, I thought I’d do post featuring music that I thought fits in beautifully with the book, along with my favourite quotes.
To start off with, the very first song that came to mind is Heartbeat by Enrique Iglesias featuring Nicole Sherzinger.
I didn’t choose this song because of its lyrics, but more because of the visual representation in correlation with the quote above. Appropriate, don’t you think?
2. “But a person doesn’t always know the difference between a new beginning and a forever sort of ending.” - Ali Benjamin
Christina Perri’s Butterfly, on the other hand, I did choose for its lyrics. Oh, the song is beautiful indeed, but for me the lyrics speaks to me of missed opportunities, and of people in your life who are there but not quite in your grasp.
I think one of the biggest issues that Suzy, our protagonist struggles with in the book is dealing with the fact that Franny, her best friend his gone. She uses her research on jellyfish as a way to fight against accepting that death can and does happen to anyone, and that in many cases, we’re not able to save everyone from it.
And to me, this song is a very loose interpretation of that. Have a listen – it’s quite an amazing song.
3. “I think about my hair, about the tangles I battle every morning. I have spent so many hours of my life trying to brush out tangles. But no matter how carefully I try to pull the individual strands apart, they just get tighter and tighter. They cinch together in all the worst ways until they are impossible to straighten out. Sometimes there is nothing to be done but to get out a pair of scissors and cut the knot right out. But how do you cut out a knot that’s formed by people?” – Ali Benjamin
It’s A Bitch To Grow Up by Alanis Morissette is a song that immediately sprang to mind when I read this quote.
Life, with all of its knots and tangles, has a way of bringing us to our knees. Whether it’s through change or through death, we’re all affected one way or another. I’m aware that this is a middle grade read, but for me this song basically says that when it comes to life, age won’t ever prevent things – good or bad – from happening.
Unfortunately, Suzy is hit with this in the worst way possible.
4. “Jellyfish are stinging machines, and their stings are as violent as anything on Earth. But they don’t even have to think about who they sting or why. Jellyfish don’t get bogged down by drama, love, friendship or sorrow. They don’t get stuck in any of the stuff that gets people in trouble.” – Ali Benjamin
People are like jellyfish sometimes. Their words are as harmful and venomous as physical violence, and just as poisonous. Again, Suzy learns this lesson the hard way when Franny starts changing for the worst.
Another Alanis song, These Versions of Violence, comes to mind. Because let’s face it, violence comes in so many forms, and words are some of the most powerful and heart-breaking tools you can use against someone.
And my heart weeps for Suzy.
5. “They are still out there, those jellyfish. They are still out there with their twenty-three stings every five seconds. They will be out there for the rest of my life. Maybe even for the rest of life on Earth. I think about the immortal jellyfish, the one that can grow younger. I wonder: is it possible that there is more than one way to grow younger? Is there some way humans can grow younger too? Like, what if we could return to the feeling we had when we were little, that sense that anything is possible?” – Ali Benjamin
I can’t think of a more appropriate song than Blackmore Night’s cover of Wish You Were Here. To me it’s a song that speaks of hopes, wishes gone by and regrets.
Death is inevitable. Friendships ends and things left unsaid will always be there lingering in the background. The Thing About Jellyfish is a book that explores all of this and so much more. It doesn’t necessarily give us the closure we’re looking for, but it does teach us that instead of drowning in the depths of our sadness, we can learn to ride the waves and break through to the surface – no matter how long it takes and no matter method we use as a coping mechanism.
A beautiful, beautiful book that everyone should read.