I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Little on September 15, 2015
Genres: Middle Grade, Young Adult
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.
I first read a few samples of this in BuzzBooks and it felt like I was going to cry. You know that tight feeling in your throat, the burning behind your eyes? Yeah, that was what I felt. So, of course, I knew I had to read more. The Thing About Jellyfish did not disappoint. Suzy is heartbroken after the death of her friend, and Ali Benjamin writes that heartbreak so well that it is palpable. Even though their friendship has been distant for some time, Suzy refuses to accept that Franny drowned, insisting that Franny (at 12, remember) was such a good swimmer that could not have happened. So Suzy stops talking.
After a class fieldtrip to the Aquarium Suzy becomes obsessed with the idea that Franny’s death was caused by a jellyfish. She launches into an in-depth investigation of jellyfish, and that investigation is shared with the readers in a seamless blend between true facts and the fiction of the story. Suzy chooses to use the scientific method, as outlined by her new science teacher, to conduct her research, and even goes on to give a talk on jellyfish–the first time she’s spoken since Franny’s death. Suzy’s obsession with jellyfish is a coping mechanism, but it also gives the reader a view into how this young girl is grieving, and allows us to grieve with her.
This book was heartbreaking and beautiful and somehow manages to teach us about jellyfish and loss and grief all at the same time. If you’re looking for a book that will make you cry, this is the one. Even just writing about it has that tight feeling in my throat again! Go read it. You won’t regret it.