The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Hachette Book Group Canada
Publication Date: September 22nd, 2015
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Point of View: 1st Person & Feminine
Recommended Age: 10+
Genres & Themes: Middle Grade, Contemporary, Friendship, Death
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.
Usually, I’m annoyed with books that present a dead character in a story and even make them part of the main cast, because WE don’t know them as well as the characters in the book do.
But Ali Benjamin succeeded to make me care about Suzy’s best friend who drowned and died, leaving her friendless and feeling alone.
Except Suzy was already friendless even before her best friend died.
In the story, there is the past and the present. The past focuses on the relationship between Suzy and her best friend, as if she were writing in a journal to Franny. The present focuses on Suzy trying to find an explanation to Franny’s death.
In her own way, she is coping with her best friend’s death, but not in the right way. She’s not moving on. It’s like she’s not able to move past this until she is able to prove that Franny could not have really perished in a drowning accident, seeing that she was a great swimmer.
It’s a very moving story. And very sad, also. I cared so much for Suzy, and although my heart was breaking every time Suzy made a connection between Franny’s death and jellyfish (which was always), I kept on reading with the hope that things will turn out okay for Suzy.
Ali Benjamin’s writing is simply beautiful. It’s easy to get lost in her words, to let them envelope us. Congrats to her for writing a wonderful, realistic story with the theme of grief and loss.
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I really loved this one, as well. It was moving, and one of the first books I’d read in a long time that made me feel like I’d learned something totally new–even though it was just about jellyfish. I just love that feeling of discovery from readng.