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The Thing About Jellyfish

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  26,421 ratings  ·  3,935 reviews
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.
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published September 22nd 2015 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (first published August 18th 2015)
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Reese Wilson I read it in fourth grade, then read it 3 more times in fifth grade, but I believe this book is meant more for middle-schoolers. (But is is AMAZING!)

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Average rating 4.09  · 
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Cristina Monica
Oct 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: middle-grade, death
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 frien
Oct 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites-recent
"If people were silent, they could hear the noise of their own lives better. If people were silent, it would make what they did say, whenever they chose to say it, more important. If people were silent, they could read one another's signals, the way underwater creatures flash lights at one another, or turn their skin different colors."

After her best friend dies in a drowning accident, Suzy refuses to speak, and she is determined to discover the true cause of why the unthinkable happened. As
Elyse  Walters
Jun 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
Update: Kindle $2.99 special today. Its wonderful!!!

If you want a book to feel uplifted and inspired ... this is a terrific choice... written by very bright talented author!'

Thank you 'Little Brown Young Readers', Netgalley, and a 'new favorite' author--
*Ali Benjamin* for the opportunity to read this.
Ali Benjamin wrote a book to be very proud about... she makes science come alive --and has us fall deeply in love with our young narrator.

Middle School year
Ahmad Sharabiani
The Thing About Jellyfish, Ali Benjamin
The Thing About Jellyfish is a 2015 children's novel written by Ali Benjamin, her fiction debut. The book follows Suzy Swanson, the protagonist and narrator, who theorizes the death of her friend, Franny Jackson, was caused by a jellyfish sting. Suzy has just started the seventh grade, which is the second year at Eugene Field Middle School in fictional South Grove, Massachusetts. During their sixth grade year, Franny became interested in boys and started to
Hannah Greendale
The Thing About Jellyfish is the heartrending tale of Suzy Swanson, a little girl who just encountered the Worst Thing: death. To make sense of her grief, Suzy turns to the wonders of the universe and the dazzling expanse of her imagination.

Suzy's take on the world is both academic and poetic, despite her young age. She has one of the most romantic worldviews yet encountered in a children's book:

I liked the way patterns repeated themselves in this universe, the way a solar system could resembl
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:


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^^^That’s a boldface lie. I read this book months ago, but I suck at keeping up with reviews so I’m just now getting around to saying something about it. First things first – this is a MIDDLE GRADE novel. (In case you’re wondering – I rate books according to how I feel they hold up when compared with others in their genre.) That being said, this is a very important middle grade story and y’all can just color me
Wendy Darling
I liked the narrative voice, and at first I was intrigued by the connections drawn to jellyfish. But there were a LOT of jellyfishy facts, and I kept wondering why I didn't feel anything for this story of a girl who's so traumatized by her former best friend's death that she will no longer speak.

Then I finished it, and found the author's note at the end, which says that the story was born from "failure:" because it started out as a nonfiction essay about her fascination with jellyfish. That mad
Neil (or bleed)
"There's no single right way to say goodbye to someone you love. But the most important thing is that you keep some part of them inside you."

The Thing About Jellyfish is a heartfelt and touching story of grief, acceptance, friendship, family and fitting in. A profound novel with a plausible voice of a girl who grieved of her loss and sought for the answers at the same time.

It is a middle-grade novel that centers to Suzy Swanson and her mission to unravel the mystery (or prove her theory) beh
Oct 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Review also on

“But a person doesn’t always know the difference between a new beginning and a forever sort of ending.”

Suzy Swanson stopped talking when her best friend Franny died in a drowning accident. Channeling her lingering guilt over her last encounter with Franny and grief, Suzy turns to silence and science. Refusing to take her mother's stoic explanation that things just happen, Suzy shuts everybody out and obsessively works out a grandiose plan to prove that a jellyfish sting is the
Dec 19, 2015 rated it it was ok
The thing about this book, The Thing About Jellyfish, is that it didn't quite turn out to be as good as I expected it to be. The story was not original, that is one thing for sure. There are several other novels which I've read belonging to the same brotherhood, blindly following the same storyline, the central character working on some sort of a science project, dealing with death and dark demons and yada yada.

Initially, I felt that the facts about jelly fish weren't properly stitched into the
Jun 26, 2020 rated it liked it
This was an okay read. I’m seeing everywhere online that this is going to be a movie?... to be honest, I feel like it’s going to be one of those rare times when the movie ends up being better than the book..... 🤷🏼‍♀️ Zu is a 12 year old girl who struggles to fit in. When her BFF drowns while on vacation, they’re not on the best of terms. Zu kinda loses it. 🤭 She’s convinced her BFF got stung by a jellyfish. There are tons of facts about jellyfish in this book. 🤔 In fact, I kinda felt like the fa ...more
Nov 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
The Thing About Jellyfish is a beautifully written middle grade novel about the evolving nature of friendship, the labyrinth of discovering one's true identity, and the search for explanations to the mysteries of life. Being a science nerd wannabe, I relished all of the scientific facts in this book and how the book's parts were divided into the parts of the scientific method. I also enjoyed the author's anecdote in the acknowledgment section about how this book was born from the failure to get ...more
Korrina  (OwlCrate)
Nov 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant. This book was everything.
Aug 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Thing About Jellyfish is a touching tale about a young girl whose best (and only) friend drowns while on holiday. As the story progresses we discover that Suzy’s grief is much more than just the loss of her friend, but frustration at something happening without apparent reason, and regret about the things that took place between them before her friend died. Such a lot for a young soul to carry. I finished this last night, but I’m still feeling emotional about it. I’m so pleased I discovered ...more
Julie Christine
May 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
On a Sunday evening a couple of weeks ago I met three friends for drinks and tapas at a favorite wine bar in town. We're writers, the three of us, one with nearly two dozen novels published—she and I are launching our next releases together in September, her 19th, my 2nd. Another will celebrate her debut, a literary fiction psychological thriller, in early 2018. And the third friend is in the agent query trenches with a novel that could be adult literary fiction or YA, depending on the spin and ...more
May 31, 2019 marked it as don-t-count  ·  review of another edition
Is that they're jerks. That's all you need to know.

(view spoiler)
“It's peculiar how no-words can be better than words. Silence can say more than noise, in the same way that a person's absence can occupy even more space than their presence did."

The Thing about Jellyfish reminded me of my love for middle grade books, and why no matter how old I get, I will always return to them.

Check out my buddy Neil's glowing review for this amazingly heartfelt novel! I wanted to write a review, but his sums it up far better than I could do it justice.

“In the end, it
Dani ❤️ Perspective of a Writer
Check out more reviews @ Perspective of a Writer...

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 r
One of the best middle grade novels I've ever read. "The Thing About Jellyfish" by Ali Benjamin beautifully deals with the tragic aftermath of grief and loss. Suzy is a very unique and slightly eccentric 12 year-old who stops talking after the death of her best friend, Franny (who perished in a drowning accident). As she tries to process her grief, she becomes fascinated with jellyfish after a class trip to the aquarium. Suzy starts to ponder if maybe Franny could've been stung by a deadly jelly ...more
This book should be sold with a pack of kleenex. At least when it's being purchased by an adult. Kids will do just fine I suspect.

It is a warm and wonderful blend of healing from loss, dealing with being in middle school and not fitting in, learning that you have the power to hurt someone and you won't always have the chance to make it up to them. It's about the beauty of science, the ecology of our planet. It's about the nature of bravery and heroism and family and love. So, I guess it's about
Sep 28, 2018 rated it liked it
The Thing About Jellyfish is a young adult book centered on grief at a young age. Suzy, “Zu”, loses her best friend and in dealing with this tragic, unexpected loss, decides to minimize her speaking with the outside world.

It’s definitely a YA story but a touching one, that reminds readers of the traditionally tough age and mindset of middle-schoolers, and that everyone deals with grief in different ways. I also enjoyed the elements of Zu’s curiosity and interest in learning - Science was never
Rebecca McNutt
This frankly very strange yet wonderful middle-grade novel focuses on several themes, including grief, science and social isolation. How much is too much when it comes to mourning? When does loss become an obsession? How far should kids be pushed to say goodbye and let go of the past? These questioned are all addressed whilst Suzy tries her best to cling onto something she can understand. With the help of a caring teacher, she finds solace in science and starts learning how to move on.
Jan 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a lovely YA book about a child's first encounter with the mourning process. Bereavement is never easy, but for children it seems to be particularly confusing. Benjamin tells us the story of a young teenage girl who loses her best friend and the difficulties she encounters coming to terms with this loss.

It may be that I have not been a teenager for a while, but some of the passages seemed unnecessarily long to me. But when I asked my students about the pacing of this book they all liked i
Anna Taylor
Apr 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
LOVE. And am now spewing out jellyfish facts at the brunch table like a boss.
Colby Sharp
Jul 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Fans of Jennifer L. Holm's The Fourteenth Goldfish are going to love this one. It makes me happy to know that my daughters are growing up in a world where books show girl characters falling in love with science.
Sarah Swann
Mar 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved this so much! Such a sad and touching story. I loved how creative it was and the characters were so great. Loved it!
I received a free digital copy from the author/publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest feedback.

Suzy is 13 years old and dealing with the death of her best friend who drowned during the summer. When Suzy discovers the vast world of the jellyfish, she decides that a jellyfish sting must be why Franny died and sets out to prove it to the world.

I wasn't expecting to love this book as much as I did but I absolutely adored it. It was much faster-paced than I expected too. I think because I
Dov Zeller
"A jellyfish, if you watch it long enough, begins to look like a heart beating."

So begins Ali Benjamin's first novel written from the perspective of a kid whose love of the natural and scientific world works as both a connective and disconnecting force in her life.

The story moves back and forth in time between 1) Suzy's present predicament, as she struggles to cope with the loss of her once best friend Franny, and her guilt over their last few interactions, and tries to find her voice after lo
Mrs. Kay
Nov 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult
I honestly love books like this; where the synopsis has absolutely nothing to do with the story and the more you read, the more you discover, and the more you learn. I mean, yes, the basic premise of this book is about Suzy grieving over her friend Franny's death, but honestly...maybe it wasn't.

Sometimes it's hard for me to remember being a kid or getting into the mindset of being a child. I do wonder if I was younger would I have enjoyed this? Would it have made an impact on me? I hope it woul
Suzy is sure. The jellies got her best friend Franny. . . .that had to be the reason.

The story of Suzy's coming around to her new normal was placed within the year's lesson plan of a science teacher I wish I had. . . .I wanted to quote each part's preface, straight from what I imagine to be her chalkboard note to the class. But is that really properly a quotable bit? Ah. It has to be. Quotes stick in the tumbleweeds of our minds no matter where they come from, right?

Changing your mind is sooooo
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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. - See more at: ...more

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