REVIEW: The Thing About Jellyfish

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About the Book

The Thing About JellyfishTitleThe Thing About Jellyfish

Author: Ali Benjamin

Genre: MG Contemporary Fiction

Pages: 352

Blurb: This stunning debut novel about grief and wonder was an instant New York Times bestseller and captured widespread critical acclaim, including selection as a 2015 National Book Award finalist!

After her best friend dies in a drowning accident, Suzy is convinced that the true cause of the tragedy must have been a rare jellyfish sting–things don’t just happen for no reason. Retreating into a silent world of imagination, she crafts a plan to prove her theory–even if it means traveling the globe, alone. Suzy’s achingly heartfelt journey explores life, death, the astonishing wonder of the universe…and the potential for love and hope right next door.


This book was beautiful and heartbreaking and, honestly, the blurb doesn’t do it justice at all. This is a book that shows how younger people deal with grief and how most of the time, adults don’t know the right things to do, even if they are trying.

Suzy. I want to hug her so bad, but I don’t think she would like that. After her friend dies, she pretty much stops talking, and this is after being super talkative. What the blurb leaves out is that Suzy and her friend Franny were besties in elementary school but started drifting apart in middle school when Franny wanted to be popular and Suzy was just seen as weird. It ends with a major severing of their friendship. So while there is still sadness at the passing of someone you were close to, there is also the complicated feelings of losing someone in two different ways, the second way being much more final.

I think so many kids would relate to Suzy for this because, let’s be honest: how many of us were the weird kid in school? The geeks, the nerds, the outcasts. I know I was for a long time. I watched my friends change around me and had to navigate that all while being in that awkward preteen phase of life. This book spends a great deal of time going into flashbacks of Suzy and Franny’s friendship and how it fell apart.

I loved how Suzy fixated on the jellyfish as a means of coping with everything. She learned everything possible about those creatures, even breaking her silence in order to deliver a presentation in front of the class. She also has a wonderful science teacher, Mrs. Turton, who encourages her, and a new friend, Justin, who is one of the other weird kids in school but who also helps Suzy come back out of her shell a bit.

This is a beautiful book which, although it is listed as Middle Grade since it’s main character is only 12, I think all ages would enjoy it. The ending is bittersweet, as you can imagine, and I don’t want to spoil it here. You’ll have to read to find out.

GoodReads rating: 5 stars

Categories: Books I've Read

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