Author: Nora Raleigh Baskin
Genre: realistic fiction
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The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin
|a tough read for kids|
Summary(provided by publisher): From the critically acclaimed author of Anything But Typical comes a touching look at the days leading up to the tragic events of September 11, 2001, and how that day impacted the lives of four middle schoolers.
Ask anyone: September 11, 2001, was serene and lovely, a perfect day—until a plane struck the World Trade Center.
But right now it is a few days earlier, and four kids in different parts of the country are going about their lives. Sergio, who lives in Brooklyn, is struggling to come to terms with the absentee father he hates and the grandmother he loves. Will’s father is gone, too, killed in a car accident that has left the family reeling. Naheed has never before felt uncomfortable about being Muslim, but at her new school she’s getting funny looks because of the head scarf she wears. Aimee is starting a new school in a new city and missing her mom, who has to fly to New York on business.
These four don’t know one another, but their lives are about to intersect in ways they never could have imagined. Award-winning author Nora Raleigh Baskin weaves together their stories into an unforgettable novel about that seemingly perfect September day—the day our world changed forever.
My opinion: I wondered how Baskin would approach such a tragic, world changing event for a middle grade audience. With a topic like this one, so tied up in our cultural identity and shared emotion, it can be difficult to portray it accurately without becoming overwrought. Baskin's approach is brilliant in it's simplicity. She barely talks about it at all. The bulk of the novel focuses on the days prior. We get snapshots of the lives of four very different kids in four different places. We see their every day concerns, the things that complicate their lives. Then we are given four brief scenes, four moments when each of these kids become aware that the world has changed, that this huge tragic event has occurred. And that's it. No dwelling on emotions, on death despair and fear. Just that brief moment and then an epilogue a year later that brings all four kids together and in simple terms describes how their lives have changed. That's the best word for this book. Simple ans surprisingly calm. It's a gentle way to personalize the tragedy of 9/11 for kids who were not yet alive when it happened.
Advanced Reader Copy provided by NetGalley