The Thing About Jellyfish

By Ali Benjamin,

Book cover of The Thing About Jellyfish

Book description

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…

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Why read it?

6 authors picked The Thing About Jellyfish as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

This book features a girl named Suzi, who is convinced her friend drowned because of a jellyfish sting. She’s so affected by her friend’s death that she stops talking. I loved seeing Suzi research jellyfish through this book.

I love learning and studying and how she went about it was cool. She was determined and strong. I also appreciated how the plot moves from the present to the past and showed the truth about Suzi’s friendship in the end.

From Maura's list on kids who make it through tough times.

Suzy’s sense of isolation grows dramatically as she enters her tweens, and the rejections of her best friend Franny, who seems to just want to be popular, stings hard.

Suzy tries to get her friend back but when Franny dies in a drowning accident, Suzy is filled with guilt for the tricks she’s pulled. Meanwhile her own family is falling apart. No wonder Suzy feels she must find the reason for Fanny’s death.

Growing up is hard enough but when a friend’s death seems beyond comprehension, creating your own fantasized beliefs can feel like the best solution. I believe that…

Narrated in the present day with journal entries and flashbacks, The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin introduces a young girl named Suzy who secludes herself after losing her best friend to a drowning accident. One of the best parts of this book is Suzy’s ability to deep dive into the wonder she has for science, particularly jellyfish, which becomes the spark for her finding her way back into the lives of the people she’s been trying to avoid. The reader experiences Suzy’s grief with her, and by the end, feels the healing and hope that comes from the support…

Struggling to adapt to the changing world around her, Suzy leans into her passion for jellyfish. These mysterious animals teach her more than she could have imagined, and ultimately guide her understanding of what it means to be a friend. Smart and fascinating, this book has had a huge influence on my own work!

I have to start the list with my favorite of favorites, The Thing About Jellyfish. This novel is just… wow. An absolutely beautiful introspection of losing a dear friend after a terrible fallout. When her ex-best friend drowns, Suzy becomes obsessed with proving that a rare jellyfish sting caused the accident—and her journey is the most poignant thing I’ve ever experienced. The way Suzy experiences grief is real and raw, and any child (or adult!) reading this book will be able to relate. 

From Rebecca's list on about loss.

As someone who’s lost many friends through the years, I can totally relate to Benjamin’s main character Suzy and her search for meaning after losing her best friend. Questioning death and the “why” of it, Suzy believes that things don’t just happen for no reason. I love how the author incorporates the agony of grief with the wonder of the universe, and I think that readers of all ages will enjoy this beautiful and hopeful book.

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