The Thing About Jellyfish

The Thing About Jellyfish 
By: Ali Benjamin

The Story 

Suzy and Franny Jackson were inseparable in grade school. They did everything together as best friends. When middle school came, Suzy fully expected to take it on with Franny. When the girl's first days in middle school arrive, the girls make a pact. If Franny ever joins the "popular crowd" and starts to desert her true self, Suzy is supposed to give her a sign to keep her grounded.

It doesn't take long for Franny to break their pact. She begins to change and make new friends. Suzy gives her a sign, but it turns into a disaster that forever ruins their chances of becoming friends again.

Pretty soon Suzy is all alone without any friends.
If it wasn't bad enough that Suzy looses Franny as a friend, Suzy soon learns that she lost her all together.

Suzy's mom receives a call that Franny passed away in a drowning accident.  Franny was a great swimmer. How could this have happened? Suzy stops talking and fades into the background to deal with her grief. The more she thinks about the accident and the year, the more Suzy thinks that Franny was stung by a jellyfish. It is the only way that she could have died. To prove her theory, Suzy goes on a quest to meet up with a jellyfish expert.

As Suzy ventures to find the truth, she is able to find healing and acceptance.


I was prepared to hate this book. Lately it feels like every other middle grade book I have read has a dead friend or parent in it, but this one was interesting, and it was beautifully written. I was touched by its story and depth.

 Middle school is cruel, and many tweens go through losing a friendship with childhood friend. So I think this will generate a lot of appeal for many tweens. I also think that many will enjoy the jellyfish facts that are sprinkled throughout the book. Animal facts can be a big seller to tweens!


I know this book does address some dark issues, but I wish that there was more humor. It felt too heavy at times. I was also was a bit disturbed by some of Suzy's behavior. To give Franny a sign that she needs to change, Suzy puts urine in Franny's backpack.

This was too much for me. I think the character could have gone about this in a less gross manner. Maybe a card discussing why she talked about urine in front of Franny's new friend with an apology?

Perhaps Franny ignores her apology and it is then that she realizes their friendship is over! I feel like if it went a route like this one, it might be more relatable for tweens and readers.

The urine thing is characteristic of the character though. Maybe the author just went this way to show how Suzy thinks in a literal way.

Overall, I did like this one.  I will recommend it to tweens who enjoy problem novels. I can see this one being a favorite for school libraries to address social issues in middle school.

What did you think of this book?


Please note: This is just my thoughts on this book. This is  no way a reflection of  the committee or committee discussions.

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