Posted in Book Reviews, Middle Grade Book Reviews

the thing about jellyfish

By Ali Benjamin
Realistic Fiction – Young Adult

My Synopsis
When Susy’s best friend dies, it causes her to undergo a series of grief-induced reactions. She stops talking, hunts for answers, relives all her regrets, deals with loads of guilt, and gets angry at those around her. In her hunt for answers, she becomes oddly obsessed with jellyfish as a possible cause of her friend’s drowning, hence the book title.

Why I picked this book.
I’m dealing with grief myself.

What was disappointing
It was pretty depressing at times. I’m sure it was meant to be. It captured Suzy’s sense of doom and gloom, but it certainly didn’t help me.

Why I kept reading
Suzy’s fact-finding about jellyfish plus all the other random science was fascinating. The flashbacks told a different story than I expected, and I was interested in that. I also enjoyed how the flashbacks and present slowly came together in the end.

It’s much more of a “coming of age” story than I anticipated. Suzy’s character is unlike any other I’ve read. I can’t decide if she’s more realistic or is entirely unique. Her personality is interesting enough to save you from the awful truths of how friends grow apart and how mean kids can be. Between the grief and the depression, it may be a bit much for some kids to enjoy.

Final thoughts
It’s called realistic fiction simply because the characters and events aren’t actual people and facts. However, it is an authentic and painful story. The word “painful” is used in many reviews, but don’t shy away from it just because of that. It’s not overdone; it’s simply life. Perhaps don’t read it if you’re currently grieving or depressed.

I have always been in awe of jellyfish. They will never make sense to me, no matter how much I learn.


dog groomer, dog trainer, and storyteller for children and the young at heart.

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