On My Bookshelf: The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin

August 31, 2020

In The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin, Suzy struggles to accept that death of her best friend Franny was just an unfortunate accident, and her feelings about her friend are further complicated by the rift that grew in their relationship before Franny's death. This book is perfect for budding scientists, but also just your average middle school student trying to fit in. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom use.
The basic plot from Amazon: Everyone says that it was an accident... that sometimes things "just happen". But Suzy won't believe it. Ever. 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.

Why I liked it: In The Thing About JellyfishSuzy can't believe her friend Franny's death was just a freak accident; since Franny was a swimmer, Suzy is convinced that something more specific must have caused her death and becomes fixated on researching deadly jellyfish to the point where she plans a trip across the globe to consult with an expert. What complicates Suzy's feeling about her friend's death is that when she died, they weren't really friends anymore. The transition to middle school, shifts in friends, and romantic interests create a rift between the two girls who had been best friends for years.
In The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin, Suzy struggles to accept that death of her best friend Franny was just an unfortunate accident, and her feelings about her friend are further complicated by the rift that grew in their relationship before Franny's death. This book is perfect for budding scientists, but also just your average middle school student trying to fit in. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom use.

I appreciated the author's depiction of a young person's grieving process as well as of two friends growing apart, but insecure and unsure about their changed roles in each others' lives. Suzy at times seemed incredibly mature and at other times very young and immature, and I couldn't write that inconsistency off as part of coming of age or her character development.

Classroom application: The Thing About Jellyfish is appropriate for middle school and a great add to your STEM section of your classroom library because not only is the book filled with information about jellyfish, section of the book is introduced as a part of the scientific method.

This book is perfect for budding scientists, but also just your average middle school student trying to fit in. The book could be used in literature circles focused on friendship or being different, and also touches on important topics for middle schoolers such as divorced parents and LBGTQ+ relationships.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of The Thing About Jellyfish for yourself, you can find it on Amazon here.

Note: The Literary Maven is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

In The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin, Suzy struggles to accept that death of her best friend Franny was just an unfortunate accident, and her feelings about her friend are further complicated by the rift that grew in their relationship before Franny's death. This book is perfect for budding scientists, but also just your average middle school student trying to fit in. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom use.

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