Reading time 4 mins

The Thing About Jellyfish took me completely by surprise and right out of my reading rut. I learned a few things and cried without even realizing it. Suzy’s actions were a surprisingly intelligent reaction to a really sad situation.


This was such an easy read, I pretty much read it in one day. I was totally in a reading rut. I have been trying to finish one of 5 books I am currently reading. I picked this one up because I couldn’t seem to get into anything. This is the one that broke the spell for me. Suzy is such an interesting character. She looses her best friend at the start of middle school. This was heartbreaking to watch, but it wasn’t Franny’s death that separated them, it was the hierarchy of social status. Suzy is awkward socially, and her friend finds a way to fit in. Middle school is horrible for Suzy, which is such a common feeling for most people. I know a lot of people will agree that fitting in is so important, especially in middle school. I was cringing when Suzy started spewing random facts at her peers.

Suzy is a character with a big imagination. She memorizes facts and uses numbers and statistics to occupy her mind. her behavior comes across as a bit odd sometimes. When her best and only friend Franny drowns, despite being a good swimmer, Suzy stops talking. Suzy retreats deep into herself. When she stops talking, her mind is free to imagine all sorts of solutions to problems. Suzy develops a hypothesis and then a plan to prove it. This book explores the problems with popularity and what it feels like to be left behind. This story also tackles the difficult process of grief for a teenager.

In trying to get back her friendship with Franny, Suzy makes some questionable moves. Her last action to get Franny back is performed in the last week of school, and it completely backfires. When Franny dies unexpectedly, Suzy carries around so much guilt. Suzy’s parents are divorced in this story, so we see Suzy being raised by her now single mother and on her silent visits with her father. Since Suzy has decided not to speak, the parents blame each other and try to help her by making her see a therapist.

Suzy imagines Franny’s drowning is really the result of a Jellyfish, and she tries to enlist experts to help her prove her hypothesis. Suzy’s research into Jellyfish was really fun to read about. The author used facts and real experts in this book for Suzy to learn from. I have to admit I spent some time on YouTube after reading this just to see the Jellyfish Suzy was obsessing about.


*Irukandji jellyfish Queensland, Australia– Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

“All the creatures on this earth might be made from stardust.
But we are the only ones who get to know that. That’s the thing about jellyfish: They’ll never understand that. All they can do is drift along, unaware.”

I mentioned earlier that this book made me cry without being aware of crying. I know this sounds unbelievable, but I didn’t even realize I was crying until the tears slid down my face onto my kindle. The story of grief was really powerful and a bit unexpected for me personally. It was made complex by a character who didn’t even realize she was grieving. This book is aimed at middle school age children, but I enjoyed it so much I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys YA contemporary reads.

My Rating


Review: THE THING ABOUT JELLYFISH by Ali BenjaminThe Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin
September 22nd 2015
Pages: 352
Genres: Young Adult, Social Issues, Death & Dying, Emotions & Feelings, Friendship, Animals, Marine Life, Family, Marriage & Divorce
eARC provided by Copy provided by publisher via NetGalley

AmazonB&NBook Depository

A stunning debut about how grief can open the world in magical ways.

After her best friend dies in a drowning accident, Suzy is convinced that the true cause of the tragedy was a rare jellyfish sting. 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.

About Ali Benjamin

Ali Benjamin has written for the Boston Globe Magazine, Martha Stewart's Whole Living, and Sesame Street. She is the co-writer for HIV+ teen Paige Rawl's coming-of-age memoir, Positive, which will be a lead title for Harper Teen this coming Fall, and which will feature an introduction by Jay Asher. She is a member of the New England Science Writers.

I received this product free of charge in exchange for an honest review. This post contains affiliate links. This review is in compliance with the FTC guidelines.

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