Title: The Thing About Jellyfish Author: Ali Benjamin Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary Series: none
Blurb 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.
What I Liked Grief is an unpredictable thing, and Ali Benjamin has perfectly captured one of the many manifestations of it in this wonderful book. The main character, Suzy, is struggling to understand her friend Fanny’s death. Fanny drowned in the ocean, which to Suzy makes no sense because Fanny was a very strong swimmer. Suzy decides there must have been foul play in Fanny’s death, and she pins blame on jellyfish.
What I Would Have Liked to See You know, I can’t really think of anything. There are other ways of processing grief, but I think adding in another version of that grief would have weakened Suzy’s experience of it.
My Favorite! The narrative voice is uniquely awkward and straightforward. Suzy is a child but her denial and desperation to find an explanation is common to children and adults alike.
TL;DR This book is heavy while also having humor in it, with a moving ending. Not gonna lie, it made me tear up a little bit. This is a great book for introducing older MG readers to the idea of loss, grief, and coping (and good for adults, too!).