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The Thing About Jellyfish
Cover of The Thing About Jellyfish
The Thing About Jellyfish
This stunning debut novel about grief and wonder was an instant New York Times bestseller and captured widespread critical acclaim, including selection as a 2015 National Book Award finalist! Oddlot...
This stunning debut novel about grief and wonder was an instant New York Times bestseller and captured widespread critical acclaim, including selection as a 2015 National Book Award finalist! Oddlot...
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  • This stunning debut novel about grief and wonder was an instant New York Times bestseller and captured widespread critical acclaim, including selection as a 2015 National Book Award finalist! Oddlot Entertainment has acquired the screen rights to The Thing About Jellyfish, with Gigi Pritzker set to produce with Bruna Papandrea and Reese Witherspoon.
    After her best friend dies in a drowning accident, Suzy is convinced that the true cause of the tragedy must have been a rare jellyfish sting-things don't just happen for no reason. 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.
 

Awards-

About the Author-

  • Ali Benjamin has written for the Boston Globe Magazine, Martha Stewart's Whole Living, and Sesame Street. She is the co-writer for HIV+ teen Paige Rawl's coming-of-age memoir, Positive, which will be a lead title for Harper Teen this coming Fall, and which will feature an introduction by Jay Asher. She is a member of the New England Science Writers.

Reviews-

  • DOGO Books olliebob - Suzy is quiet. She didn't used to be quiet, in fact, she wouldn't stop talking. Now it just seems easier to her to not talk. Her parents are worried about her. They bring her to "the kind of doctor she can talk to". But she doesn't talk. She hasn't talked since her former-best-friend died. People say she drowned, but Suzy knows she didn't. Because Suzy thinks she has been stung by a jellyfish. Not just any jellyfish. She knows it was the Irukandji. It is nearly impossible to see in the water. It is also extremely deadly. Suzy searches for experts on jellyfish. She finally finds the one. A man named Jamie who she knows can help her. Help her prove that Franny's death wasn't by drowning. Prove that "some things just happen" isn't a real answer. But can she do it?
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from June 8, 2015
    In her first solo outing, Benjamin (coauthor of Positive with Paige Rawls) composes a moving portrayal of loss and healing. Franny Jackson and Suzy Swanson had been best friends for years until Franny joined a middle-school clique and began to drift from Suzy and her penchant for scientific facts. As seventh grade begins, 12-year-old Suzy channels
    the conflicting emotions surrounding Franny’s drowning death into silence, shutting out her divorced parents,
    her older brother and his
    boyfriend, her psychologist, and a caring
    science teacher. Replacing language with research, Suzy follows the scientific method, whose structure mirrors that of the book, hoping to prove that a jellyfish sting was responsible for Franny’s drowning. Reminiscent of works by Jennifer L. Holm and Sharon Creech, Benjamin’s novel is a shining example of the highs and lows of early adolescence, as well as a testament to the grandeur of the natural world. Increasingly fascinated by her own theories, Suzy embarks on an ambitious plan to prove her hypothesis, while tentatively reaching out to new friends and finding support for her emerging voice. Ages 8–12. Agent: Mollie Glick, Foundry Literary + Media.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from June 1, 2015
    In middle school, where "Worst Thing" can mean anything from a pimple to public humiliation, Suzy "Zu" Swanson really has a reason to be in crisis: her former best friend has died unexpectedly, and the seventh-grader is literally silenced by grief and confusion. A chance encounter with a jellyfish display on a school trip gives her focus-for Zu, the venomous Irukandji jellyfish, while rare, provides a possible explanation for the "how" of Franny's death. And Zu is desperate for answers and relief from her haunting grief and guilt. In seven parts neatly organized around the scientific method as presented by Mrs. Turton, a middle school teacher who really gets the fragility of her students, Zu examines and analyzes past and present. A painful story of friendship made and lost emerges: the inseparable early years, Franny's pulling away, Zu's increasing social isolation, and a final attempt by Zu to honor a childhood pact. The author gently paints Zu as a bit of an oddball; not knowing what hair product to use leaves her feeling "like a separate species altogether," and knowing too many species of jellyfish earns her the nickname Medusa. Surrounded by the cruelty of adolescence, Zu is awkward, smart, methodical, and driven by sadness. She eventually follows her research far beyond the middle school norm, because " 'Sometimes things just happen' is not an explanation. It is not remotely scientific." A painful story smartly told, Benjamin's first solo novel has appeal well beyond a middle school audience. (Fiction. 12 & up)

    COPYRIGHT(2015) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    Starred review from August 1, 2015

    Gr 4-7-Suzy's best friend, Franny Jackson, was a strong swimmer. There is no way she could have drowned, at least in Suzy's mind. Suzy's determined search for a different explanation for her friend's death leads her to believe that Franny was stung by an Irukandji jellyfish. Having nothing but time, since she has no other friends and has decided to stop talking, Suzy sets out to prove her theory. This multilayered novel takes readers on several concurrent emotional journeys. Benjamin skillfully blends time and narrative to slowly reveal truths about Suzy: first and foremost that their friendship was over long before Franny's death. The girl she had once thought was her best friend decided it was time for a middle school social upgrade, choosing popularity over her awkward childhood pal. Suzy's decision to seek revenge and remind Franny of their bond backfires, destroying what was left of their relationship. Consequently, Franny's death is the impetus for the protagonist's mission of personal reconciliation for the guilt and regret she feels over their falling out. Suzy's fierce intelligence, compounded by her painful transition into adolescence, makes her a sympathetic and compelling character. Benjamin's sense of timing and delivery is extraordinary, as she blends the visceral experiences of Suzy's journey with an internal dialogue that is authentic and poignant. Though Suzy herself is oddly unique in her self-imposed social ineptitude and singular focus, the politics of friendships and changing values of young teens will resonate with readers. Benjamin's inverse approach to tragedy, placing the death at the beginning of the novel and storytelling through the grieving process, transcends the trope, as the story triumphs in the affecting realities of emotional response and resilience. VERDICT Strong readers of middle grade realistic fiction will fully immerse themselves in this superbly written, heartfelt novel.-Juliet Morefield, Multnomah County Library, OR

    Copyright 2015 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus Reviews, starred review A painful story smartly told, Benjamin's first solo novel has appeal well beyond a middle school audience.
  • Publishers Weekly, starred review Reminiscent of works by Jennifer L. Holm and Sharon Creech, Benjamin's novel is a shining example of the highs and lows of early adolescence.
  • School Library Journal, starred review Benjamin's sense of timing and delivery is extraordinary, as she blends the visceral experiences of Suzy's journey with an internal dialogue that is authentic and poignant....readers...will fully immerse themselves in this superbly written, heartfelt novel.
  • Booklist, starred review Benjamin's involving novel features clean, fluid writing that is highly accessible, yet rich with possibilities for discussion.... Her highly individual, first-person narrative makes compelling reading.... An uncommonly fine first novel.
  • VOYA, starred review This novel has it all: just-right pacing, authentic voices and characters, beautifully crafted plot, and superb writing. Readers will find that this story lingers with them after the book is closed.
  • New York Times Book Review There are...a lot of children who might not only benefit from this book but also find themselves deeply moved by it.
  • Shelf Awareness Seventh-grade narrator Suzy Swanson will win readers' hearts as she silently struggles to come to terms with her complex emotions over the death of her former best friend.

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    Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
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