The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin

The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin

Release Date: March 10, 2016
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
Rated: MG 12+
Format: Hardcover
Source: Pansing
Buy: Available at all good bookstores!

It's peculiar how no-words can be better than words. How silence can say more than noise, or a person's absence can occupy even more space than their presence did.

Suzy is twelve when her best friend, Franny, drowns one summer at the beach. It takes two days for the news to reach Suzy, and it's not something that she can accept: Franny has always been a strong swimmer, from the day they met in swim class when they were just 5. How can someone all of a sudden, just no longer be there?

Suzy realizes that they must have got it wrong: Franny didn't just drown - she was stung by a poisonous jellyfish. This makes a lot more sense to Suzy's logical mind than a random drowning - cause: a jellyfish sting; effect: death.

Suzy's journey to acceptance is quiet - she resolves to either say something important, or say nothing at all. But it's also bursting with bittersweet humour, heart-breaking honesty, big ideas and small details.

While I do tend to stick to young adult books, every now and then I'll read a middle grade novel. That being said, it has been a while since I've read one, and I'm so glad that I got the chance to read The Thing About Jellyfish. From the title alone I knew that this was going to be a powerful read. I love how I was able to delve into it and just enjoy the story, understanding our young main character as she tries to come to terms with the death of her best friend.

The funny thing is, I actually learned so much about jellyfish from this book. It's chockfull of jellyfish facts, and, of course, it has a lot to do with the story at hand, especially when it comes to how Suzy tries to cope with Franny's death. A ton of experts in the jellyfish field are alluded to in this book, and it was pretty interesting to learn about them and what they do, as well as their experiences with jellies.

I couldn't help but feel bad for Suzy. Reading the flashback chapters were really sad, especially about the transition from elementary school to middle school. Franny didn't deserve a friend as good as her. Also, while some of her actions seem a little less "mature" for her age–I'm not talking about the no-talking thing, because that is totally understandable and excusable for a character of ANY age dealing with loss–she really knew a lot of information for someone her age. I would have totally loved knowing her at that age because she knew SO MUCH. All the facts her character knows? Amazing. I definitely wasn't that smart at her age.

Bittersweet and poignant, The Thing About Jellyfish is a fantastic novel for readers of all ages. Ali Benjamin's award-winning middle grade debut was wonderfully written, and thankfully had some sweet and light moments amongst the melancholic ones. I'm looking forward to reading more from Benjamin in the (hopefully near) future.

▪ ▪ ▪ Thank you so much to Sasha at Pansing for sending me a copy for review! ▪ ▪ ▪

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  1. This is quite an interesting book. I can already tell how poignant it is just by looking at the cover. And that title speaks of some tender emotions as well. I don't know how I'm able to deduce that even without reading your review, but sometimes, you just know. :)

  2. I've heard this is wonderful! The cover grabbed me from the start, but I don't read many MG. That's something I should change! I love the idea of learning all about jellyfish in this, too. :) Wonderful review!

    Rachel @ Paper Cuts


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