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Ma vie secrète avec les méduses (Littérature 10 ans et +)

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On dit qu'on ne peut pas savoir. On dit que ce sont parfois des choses qui arrivent... Mais Suzy Swanson, 12 ans, ne peut accepter de se résigner. Hantée par la perte de celle qui a été sa meilleure amie Franny Jackson, retrouvée noyée pendant l'été - et par les regrets liés à l'inéluctable fin de leur amitié juste avant les grandes vacances - Suzy veut comprendre pourquoi On dit qu'on ne peut pas savoir. On dit que ce sont parfois des choses qui arrivent... Mais Suzy Swanson, 12 ans, ne peut accepter de se résigner. Hantée par la perte de celle qui a été sa meilleure amie Franny Jackson, retrouvée noyée pendant l'été - et par les regrets liés à l'inéluctable fin de leur amitié juste avant les grandes vacances - Suzy veut comprendre pourquoi Franny n'est plus là. Face à cette incompréhensible disparition, elle recherche une explication, une explication qu'elle veut résolument scientifique. Fascinée par l'univers merveilleux des méduses, elle se confronte ainsi aux mystères de l'univers, et se convainc peu à peu que Franny a été piquée par une Irukandji, minuscule méduse dont la piqûre peut paralyser tout le corps. Bien décidée à faire éclater la vérité, elle élabore pour cela un plan précis, quitte à se rendre à l'autre bout de la planète... Elle découvrira ainsi que, malgré l'absurdité de la mort et la douleur de la perte, c'est toujours l'amitié, l'amour, la solidarité familiale et cet indispensable rapport à l'autre, salutaire et profondément guérisseur, qui nous aident à vivre.


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On dit qu'on ne peut pas savoir. On dit que ce sont parfois des choses qui arrivent... Mais Suzy Swanson, 12 ans, ne peut accepter de se résigner. Hantée par la perte de celle qui a été sa meilleure amie Franny Jackson, retrouvée noyée pendant l'été - et par les regrets liés à l'inéluctable fin de leur amitié juste avant les grandes vacances - Suzy veut comprendre pourquoi On dit qu'on ne peut pas savoir. On dit que ce sont parfois des choses qui arrivent... Mais Suzy Swanson, 12 ans, ne peut accepter de se résigner. Hantée par la perte de celle qui a été sa meilleure amie Franny Jackson, retrouvée noyée pendant l'été - et par les regrets liés à l'inéluctable fin de leur amitié juste avant les grandes vacances - Suzy veut comprendre pourquoi Franny n'est plus là. Face à cette incompréhensible disparition, elle recherche une explication, une explication qu'elle veut résolument scientifique. Fascinée par l'univers merveilleux des méduses, elle se confronte ainsi aux mystères de l'univers, et se convainc peu à peu que Franny a été piquée par une Irukandji, minuscule méduse dont la piqûre peut paralyser tout le corps. Bien décidée à faire éclater la vérité, elle élabore pour cela un plan précis, quitte à se rendre à l'autre bout de la planète... Elle découvrira ainsi que, malgré l'absurdité de la mort et la douleur de la perte, c'est toujours l'amitié, l'amour, la solidarité familiale et cet indispensable rapport à l'autre, salutaire et profondément guérisseur, qui nous aident à vivre.

30 review for Ma vie secrète avec les méduses (Littérature 10 ans et +)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lola

    Usually, Im annoyed with books that present a dead character in a story and even make them part of the main cast, because WE dont know them as well as the characters in the book do. But Ali Benjamin succeeded to make me care about Suzys best friend who drowned and died, leaving her friendless and feeling alone. Except Suzy was already friendless even before her best friend died. In the story, there is the past and the present. The past focuses on the relationship between Suzy and her best friend, Usually, I’m annoyed with books that present a dead character in a story and even make them part of the main cast, because WE don’t know them as well as the characters in the book do. But Ali Benjamin succeeded to make me care about Suzy’s best friend who drowned and died, leaving her friendless and feeling alone. Except Suzy was already friendless even before her best friend died. In the story, there is the past and the present. The past focuses on the relationship between Suzy and her best friend, as if she were writing in a journal to Franny. The present focuses on Suzy trying to find an explanation to Franny’s death. In her own way, she is coping with her best friend’s death, but not in the right way. She’s not moving on. It’s like she’s not able to move past this until she is able to prove that Franny could not have really perished in a drowning accident, seeing that she was a great swimmer. It’s a very moving story. And very sad, also. I cared so much for Suzy, and although my heart was breaking every time Suzy made a connection between Franny’s death and jellyfish (which was always), I kept on reading with the hope that things will turn out okay for Suzy. Ali Benjamin’s writing is simply beautiful. It’s easy to get lost in her words, to let them envelope us. Congrats to her for writing a wonderful, realistic story with the theme of grief and loss. Blog | Youtube | Twitter | Instagram | Google+ | Bloglovin’

  2. 4 out of 5

    Tabetha

    "If people were silent, they could hear the noise of their own lives better. If people were silent, it would make what they did say, whenever they chose to say it, more important. If people were silent, they could read one another's signals, the way underwater creatures flash lights at one another, or turn their skin different colors." After her best friend dies in a drowning accident, Suzy refuses to speak, and she is determined to discover the true cause of why the unthinkable happened. As "If people were silent, they could hear the noise of their own lives better. If people were silent, it would make what they did say, whenever they chose to say it, more important. If people were silent, they could read one another's signals, the way underwater creatures flash lights at one another, or turn their skin different colors." After her best friend dies in a drowning accident, Suzy refuses to speak, and she is determined to discover the true cause of why the unthinkable happened. As she processes her grief and the journey at the point from when she and her friend first met, until her tragic death, Suzy begins to learn more about the complexities of friendship, and of the beauty and heartache in life. This is a beautiful, middle grade novel that happens to be a great read for all ages, and especially meaningful if you have undergone the loss of a loved one. It is not depressing, but is instead hopeful, with many moments of humor. Scientific facts involving jellyfish are woven in with a lyrical writing style that is so moving and powerful, and that provide parallels to daily life. At times, I was smiling through my tears...this book brought back memories of a time when wonder, excitement, and the ability to believe are foremost in your mind... A special mention to Neil and his inspiring review of this lovely book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    Update: Kindle $2.99 special today. Its wonderful!!! This is THE BEST YOUNG ADULT BOOK .... If you want a book to feel uplifted and inspired ... this is a terrific choice... written by very bright talented author!' Thank you 'Little Brown Young Readers', Netgalley, and a 'new favorite' author-- *Ali Benjamin* for the opportunity to read this. Ali Benjamin wrote a book to be very proud about... she makes science come alive --and has us fall deeply in love with our young narrator. Middle School Update: Kindle $2.99 special today. Its wonderful!!! This is THE BEST YOUNG ADULT BOOK .... If you want a book to feel uplifted and inspired ... this is a terrific choice... written by very bright talented author!' Thank you 'Little Brown Young Readers', Netgalley, and a 'new favorite' author-- *Ali Benjamin* for the opportunity to read this. Ali Benjamin wrote a book to be very proud about... she makes science come alive --and has us fall deeply in love with our young narrator. Middle School years are challenging years for kids. My own 34year old daughter says they were the most painful years of her life. -- we've read books on the theme before about 'The awkward years'.... Or 'the bully'...,, or 'friendships falling apart' ....... But you've never read any of them that with the marvels of the jellyfish. You'll be surprised how much you'll learn...'fascinating'!!! You'll read about the scientists Jamie Seymour, and Diana Nyad's historic swimming from Cuba to Florida. The entire last half of the book I was completely 'mush'.... crying all the way through! Suzy delivers an oral science report to her class ..,on Jellyfish... She teaches her class about jellyfish lifecycles – – – "jelly start off on us as a plant, cleaning to the bottom of the sea, and how in that phase of life, they are a planula. But that when they are grown up, when they break away from the seafloor and are free to pulse through the ocean, they have taken the form of a medusa." She has so much more to say...( this is the first time she has spoken at all since before the beginning of the school year) ... She has a message she desperately wants to get across--- but her teacher stops her...they have run out of time... She lets her continue - a little-.but she still never finishes... "Jellyfish don't get logged down by drama, by love or friendship, or sorrow. They don't get stuck in any of the stuff that gets people in trouble." Suzy's best friend, Franny, since kindergarten, died - the summer before 7th grade. There is more to this story... which will have any young readers looking at their own friendships and School community connections. Parents will question themselves -- wondering 'what might they have done to help prevent some of the painful lessons child face on their own. Where do we as parents step in--- and where do we back off? Suzy - (short for Suzanne- called 'Zu', by her mother, Suzy Q, by her brothers partner, and 'Belle' by Justin), .......is the most bright-lovable-12 year old girl you could ever want to meet. I miss her already! If I could fly to Boston and visit the touch tank, jellies exhibit and giant ocean tank...I would. If I ever 'do' get to Boston, (one of my wishes), The aquarium is one of first places I want to visit. This book, and Ali Benjamin, opened my interest deeper. I'm fully inspired! Oh....and for more fun information...did you know that jellyfish are immortal? A jellyfish called Turritopis Nutricula can grow younger --which is something no other creature on earth can do. Pretty cool, don't ya think? A jellyfishy- lovely book!!!!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    The Thing About Jellyfish, Ali Benjamin The Thing About Jellyfish is a 2015 children's novel written by Ali Benjamin, her fiction debut. The book follows Suzy Swanson, the protagonist and narrator, who theorizes the death of her friend, Franny Jackson, was caused by a jellyfish sting. Suzy has just started the seventh grade, which is the second year at Eugene Field Middle School in fictional South Grove, Massachusetts. During their sixth grade year, Franny became interested in boys and started to The Thing About Jellyfish, Ali Benjamin The Thing About Jellyfish is a 2015 children's novel written by Ali Benjamin, her fiction debut. The book follows Suzy Swanson, the protagonist and narrator, who theorizes the death of her friend, Franny Jackson, was caused by a jellyfish sting. Suzy has just started the seventh grade, which is the second year at Eugene Field Middle School in fictional South Grove, Massachusetts. During their sixth grade year, Franny became interested in boys and started to join a more popular social circle than the sometimes awkward Suzy, who had been best friends with Franny starting shortly after they met, when they were both five years old. After the two had a falling out in the sixth grade year, Franny died during the ensuing summer before they had a chance to heal their friendship. عنوانها: شاید عروس دریایی؛ عروس دریایی؛ گناه عروس دریایی؛ نویسنده: الی(علی) بنجامین؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز سی و یکم ماه ژانویه سال 2017 میلادی عنوان: شاید عروس دریایی؛ نویسنده: الی بنجامین؛ مترجم: آرزو قلیزاده؛ تهران، نشر پرتقال، 1395؛ در 288 ص؛ شابک: 9786008111474؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان بریتانیایی - سده 21 م عنوان: عروس دریایی؛ نویسنده: الی بنجامین؛ مترجم: کیوان عبیدی آشتیانی؛ تهران، افق، 1395؛ در 264 ص؛ شابک: 9786003532380؛ عنوان: گناه عروس دریایی؛ نویسنده: الی بنجامین؛ مترجم: شهناز صاعلی؛ تهران، پیدایش، 1395؛ در 306 ص؛ شابک: 9786002964564؛ نقل از پشت جلد کتاب: «بعضی از قلب‌ها فقط چهارصدودوازده میلیون بار می‌تپند. ممکن است زیاد به نظر برسد، اما در حقیقت، این عدد تنها می‌تواند یکی را تا دوازده سالگی برساند. سوزی سوانسون همیشه چیزهایی می‌داند که بچه‌ های هم‌سن و سالش نمی‌دانند؛ مثلاً این‌که هر سال، عروس‌های دریایی به طور میانگین، یکصدوپنجاه میلیون بار نیش می‌زنند؛ یا هر بچه مدرسه‌ ی راهنمایی، حدوداً بیست میلیارد اتم شکسپیر در وجودش دارد؛ اما با این‌همه هوش، وقتی با بهترین دوستش مشکلی پیدا می‌کند و پیش از این‌که بتواند دوباره با او دوست شود»؛ پایان نقل از پشت جلد کتاب نقل نمونه از متن: (کاش همدیگر را می‌دیدیم و می‌توانستیم راجع به نیش و زهر، و آغاز و پایان، و همه‌ ی موجوداتی که دیگران آن‌ها را درک نمی‌کنند صحبت کنیم...؛ ذهن «سوزی» پر از پرسشه و با تمام وجود تلاش می‌کنه، تا بفهمه چرا بهترین و صمیمی‌ترین دوستش «فرنی»، در دریا غرق شد؛ آخه فرنی شناگر ماهری بود، آخه دقیقن در زمان غرق شدنِ فرنی، اون‌ها با هم قهر بودن، و آخه سوزی هنوز منتظره، تا حرفهاش رو به فرنی بزنه، تا با هم آشتی کنن...؛) پایان نقل از کتاب. ا. شربیانی

  5. 4 out of 5

    Hannah Greendale

    The Thing About Jellyfish is the heartrending tale of Suzy Swanson, a little girl who just encountered the Worst Thing: death. To make sense of her grief, Suzy turns to the wonders of the universe and the dazzling expanse of her imagination. Suzy's take on the world is both academic and poetic, despite her young age. She has one of the most romantic worldviews yet encountered in a children's book: I liked the way patterns repeated themselves in this universe, the way a solar system could The Thing About Jellyfish is the heartrending tale of Suzy Swanson, a little girl who just encountered the Worst Thing: death. To make sense of her grief, Suzy turns to the wonders of the universe and the dazzling expanse of her imagination. Suzy's take on the world is both academic and poetic, despite her young age. She has one of the most romantic worldviews yet encountered in a children's book: I liked the way patterns repeated themselves in this universe, the way a solar system could resemble an atom, or a mountain range seen from outer space could look just like a fern leaf covered with frost. I liked the thought that three billion bugs fly over my head in a single month in summer or that an inch of soil might contain millions of creatures from thousands of different species. This book is targeted at a middle grade audience, yet it offers several profound life sentiments: Sometimes you want things to change so badly, you can't even stand to be in the same room with the way things actually are. In the end, Suzanne," [she] continued, "it's a gift to spend time with people we care about. Even if it's imperfect. Even if the time doesn't end when, or how, we expected. Even when that person leaves us." Even Suzy's musings on people and social behavior give the reader something to think about: If people were silent, they could hear the noise of their own lives better. What my dad wanted, I suspect, was the thing everybody seems to want: small talk. I don't understand small talk. I don't even understand why it's called that - small talk - when it fills up so much space. The Thing About Jellyfish is a beautifully crafted tale about beginnings stemming from pain and blooming into a life worth cherishing.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kelly (and the Book Boar)

    Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/ WARNING: SPOILER-ISH ^^^Thats a boldface lie. I read this book months ago, but I suck at keeping up with reviews so Im just now getting around to saying something about it. First things first this is a MIDDLE GRADE novel. (In case youre wondering I rate books according to how I feel they hold up when compared with others in their genre.) That being said, this is a very important middle grade story and yall can just color me Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/ WARNING: SPOILER-ISH ^^^That’s a boldface lie. I read this book months ago, but I suck at keeping up with reviews so I’m just now getting around to saying something about it. First things first – this is a MIDDLE GRADE novel. (In case you’re wondering – I rate books according to how I feel they hold up when compared with others in their genre.) That being said, this is a very important middle grade story and y’all can just color me impressed. At surface level The Thing About Jellyfish is the story of Suzy – a young girl who is informed that her best friend died in a drowning accident. Convinced that could not be the case because said friend was a good swimmer, Suzy believes the “drowning” must have really been an altercation with a jellyfish and becomes determined to meet the world’s foremost expert on the creatures in order to prove it . . . This story was so much deeper than that, though. It was an amazing journey through the grief process – not only through the death of Suzy’s friend, but also when the story cut through the first layer to talk about the changes that happen as children morph from elementary schoolers to pre-teens and middle graders. It tackled the issue of finding yourself “on the outs” with your former bestie, of finding yourself in general, and was chock-full of sage advice . . . in disguise: “Having venom doesn’t make a creature bad. Venom is protection. The more fragile the animal, the more venom it needs. So the more venom a creature has, the more we should be able to forgive that animal. They’re the ones who need it most.” Highly recommended to youngsters (and their oldster counteparts). ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, NetGalley!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Wendy Darling

    I liked the narrative voice, and at first I was intrigued by the connections drawn to jellyfish. But there were a LOT of jellyfishy facts, and I kept wondering why I didn't feel anything for this story of a girl who's so traumatized by her former best friend's death that she will no longer speak. Then I finished it, and found the author's note at the end, which says that the story was born from "failure:" because it started out as a nonfiction essay about her fascination with jellyfish. That I liked the narrative voice, and at first I was intrigued by the connections drawn to jellyfish. But there were a LOT of jellyfishy facts, and I kept wondering why I didn't feel anything for this story of a girl who's so traumatized by her former best friend's death that she will no longer speak. Then I finished it, and found the author's note at the end, which says that the story was born from "failure:" because it started out as a nonfiction essay about her fascination with jellyfish. That made a lot of things click into place for me, because the alternating chapters with the actual story that told of Suzy's fractured friendship with Franny were much less emotional, which is a weird thing to experience. I did like the realistic way that the author handled certain things, including the family (especially Suzy's relationship with her brother and his boyfriend), and the ending to her quest (view spoiler)[for once, the kid does not get to go on a big crazy trip by herself and is stopped by people in charge (hide spoiler)] . But this was not the touching, compelling read I thought it would be--though certainly proclamations of "a stunning novel about grief and wonder" can be hard to live up to. Par for the course with me, though--I rarely seem to connect with the contemporary fiction titles that are the most popular/bestselling. I just read a bunch of rave reviews for this, and I guess I must have a heart of stone. An advance copy was provided by the publisher for this review. P.S. This is upper middle grade, though frankly I'm surprised that the character was presented as a seventh grader. Many of her actions, and the framework, made it seem like she was younger.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Neil (or bleed)

    "There's no single right way to say goodbye to someone you love. But the most important thing is that you keep some part of them inside you." The Thing About Jellyfish is a heartfelt and touching story of grief, acceptance, friendship, family and fitting in. A profound novel with a plausible voice of a girl who grieved of her loss and sought for the answers at the same time. It is a middle-grade novel that centers to Suzy Swanson and her mission to unravel the mystery (or prove her theory) "There's no single right way to say goodbye to someone you love. But the most important thing is that you keep some part of them inside you." The Thing About Jellyfish is a heartfelt and touching story of grief, acceptance, friendship, family and fitting in. A profound novel with a plausible voice of a girl who grieved of her loss and sought for the answers at the same time. It is a middle-grade novel that centers to Suzy Swanson and her mission to unravel the mystery (or prove her theory) behind her ex-best friend's death. She can't accept the idea of "sometimes, things just happen"-- that her ex-best friend died of drowning when she's a good swimmer. She didn't believe in this. During a school trip in an park full of aquatic animals, she learned about invisible jellyfish. And she assumed that maybe her best friend has been killed by a jellyfish sting. What I loved about this book is how believable Suzy's voice and feelings were. The way she narrated the story is gripping and at the same time, flowing smoothly. Her thoughts of the past-- some of them sends a fluttering joy in me but most of them later on tug and linger at the deepest part of my heart. It's heart-aching. Her thoughts of the present, however, reminds me of how sad and painful losing a loved one. This book obviously is about jellyfish, too. It offers knowledge and facts about these animals and opens a new perspective about jellyfish and the way we see things. It shows how people are so much invested with big things and sometimes forgot to acknowledge the small things around them. Small things that matter, too. Small things that also can bring change if one knows where to look.

  9. 5 out of 5

    ♛Tash

    Review also on But a person doesnt always know the difference between a new beginning and a forever sort of ending. Suzy Swanson stopped talking when her best friend Franny died in a drowning accident. Channeling her lingering guilt over her last encounter with Franny and grief, Suzy turns to silence and science. Refusing to take her mother's stoic explanation that things just happen, Suzy shuts everybody out and obsessively works out a grandiose plan to prove that a jellyfish sting is the real Review also on “But a person doesn’t always know the difference between a new beginning and a forever sort of ending.” Suzy Swanson stopped talking when her best friend Franny died in a drowning accident. Channeling her lingering guilt over her last encounter with Franny and grief, Suzy turns to silence and science. Refusing to take her mother's stoic explanation that things just happen, Suzy shuts everybody out and obsessively works out a grandiose plan to prove that a jellyfish sting is the real reason for her best friend's death. I hate to say this, but we've all been or will be Suzy Swanson at some point in our lives. We all have our first times with grief. I remember mine at twelve years old when I lost a cousin in a drowning accident, just like Franny, so reading The Thing About A Jellyfish deeply resonated with my own experiences. Grief isolates,it makes you think that no one understands what you're going through, and your brain becomes an endless stream of whys and what ifs. Ali Benjamin perfectly captured this sense of isolation in The Thing About A Jellyfish. Suzy Swanson is an oddball; she likes science and statistics, she spouts animal facts about bodily fluids like nobody's business and, more often than not, misses social cues. The story is told through her POV and her voice is authentic and heartbreaking. Being most comfortable with science for explanations, Suzy attempts to bring structure to her grief by focusing her energy on jellyfish facts and statistics, and on planning to get her theory about the real cause of Franny's death validated by a jellyfish expert. Through Suzy's quest to prove her theory, the reader is treated to a handful of fascinating facts about jellyfish. I now know that jellyfish don't have brains, that some species can clone themselves and the various fatal effects of a jellyfish sting. I am sure my new found jellyfish expertise will come in handy someday, but for now they're just making me paranoid of swimming in open water. No more swimsuits for me. Lookit these graceful bastards swimming like they own the ocean “Maybe this is what happens when a person grows up. Maybe the space between you and the other people in your life grows so big you can stuff it full of all kinds of lies.” Suzy's drastic vow of silence puts a strain on her relationship with her family. While in school, Suzy is all too painfully aware that she's considered that weird kid who has no friends and doesn't talk. The Thing About Jellyfish poignantly explores the pains of social anxiety and the general awkwardness of puberty. This book is meant for middle schoolers, and despite the delicate topics explored, Ali Benjamin's introspective prose remains middle-school appropriate. My only issue is that even after all the build-up for Suzy's closure doubling as a grand adventure, the denouement felt somewhat rushed and all too convenient. To sum it up, despite being out of middle school for more than ten years, I loved this wonderfully pensive book about grief and coming to terms with it.Highly recommended with a side of Sesame Jellyfish.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Masooma

    The thing about this book, The Thing About Jellyfish, is that it didn't quite turn out to be as good as I expected it to be. The story was not original, that is one thing for sure. There are several other novels which I've read belonging to the same brotherhood, blindly following the same storyline, the central character working on some sort of a science project, dealing with death and dark demons and yada yada. Initially, I felt that the facts about jelly fish weren't properly stitched into the The thing about this book, The Thing About Jellyfish, is that it didn't quite turn out to be as good as I expected it to be. The story was not original, that is one thing for sure. There are several other novels which I've read belonging to the same brotherhood, blindly following the same storyline, the central character working on some sort of a science project, dealing with death and dark demons and yada yada. Initially, I felt that the facts about jelly fish weren't properly stitched into the fabric of the novel. They were just stated plainly and I felt as though I was reading a scientific research work. Additionally, the characters were sketchy and the chemistry between Franny and Suzy was also average. The sole reason for which I did not DNF this book was because I very much appreciate learning a word or two while reading fiction. Hence, for me this novel was just okay-ish.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    The Thing About Jellyfish is a beautifully written middle grade novel about the evolving nature of friendship, the labyrinth of discovering one's true identity, and the search for explanations to the mysteries of life. Being a science nerd wannabe, I relished all of the scientific facts in this book and how the book's parts were divided into the parts of the scientific method. I also enjoyed the author's anecdote in the acknowledgment section about how this book was born from the failure to get The Thing About Jellyfish is a beautifully written middle grade novel about the evolving nature of friendship, the labyrinth of discovering one's true identity, and the search for explanations to the mysteries of life. Being a science nerd wannabe, I relished all of the scientific facts in this book and how the book's parts were divided into the parts of the scientific method. I also enjoyed the author's anecdote in the acknowledgment section about how this book was born from the failure to get her essay about jellyfish accepted for submission. Suzy and Franny had been the best of friends since they met in swim class at the age of five. However, during the process of adjusting to the land mine known as middle school, a rift forms between the two girls. Then the summer before the seventh grade, Franny drowns while swimming in the ocean. Suzy refuses to accept that it was a mere accident and becomes obsessed with finding out the truth about her friend's death. Serendipitously, I found this book displayed at my local library two days before a planned Sunday family outing to the aquarium. I was mesmerized by the jellyfish exhibit and was able to impress my kids with my newfound "expertise" on jellyfish. For example, 17,000 stings occur worldwide every hour. "One, two, three, four, five. Another twenty-three people." Memorable quotes: Most of all, I don't understand why small talk is considered more polite than not-talking. If people were silent, they could hear the noise of their own lives better. If people were silent, it would make what they did say, whenever they chose to say it, more important.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Korrina (OwlCrate)

    Brilliant. This book was everything.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jules

    The Thing About Jellyfish is a touching tale about a young girl whose best (and only) friend drowns while on holiday. As the story progresses we discover that Suzys grief is much more than just the loss of her friend, but frustration at something happening without apparent reason, and regret about the things that took place between them before her friend died. Such a lot for a young soul to carry. I finished this last night, but Im still feeling emotional about it. Im so pleased I discovered The Thing About Jellyfish is a touching tale about a young girl whose best (and only) friend drowns while on holiday. As the story progresses we discover that Suzy’s grief is much more than just the loss of her friend, but frustration at something happening without apparent reason, and regret about the things that took place between them before her friend died. Such a lot for a young soul to carry. I finished this last night, but I’m still feeling emotional about it. I’m so pleased I discovered this book. I feel like I’ve just had a life changing lesson in jellyfish, amongst other important things, from a very smart 12 year old. I liked her outlook on life, the world and the people around her. I admired her strength and confidence, despite not being popular at school. There was something special within her that I wish I’d had when I was being bullied at school. Perhaps I did have it, but didn’t realise it at the time. I had very frizzy hair too, and I wanted to tell her, it’s okay Frizz Ease and hair straighteners will become your best friends once you’re a little older. You can control the frizz. I suspected this book was going to make me cry before I even started it, I just didn't realise I'd need a whole box of tissues. What a beautiful, delightful, yet emotional tale. Although I enjoy religious and spiritual books, I loved how this had the same emotional impact on me without the religious aspect. I was surprised how learning scientific facts about jellyfish, with a bit of philosophical thought thrown in, could be so emotional and thought provoking. This is like Stephen King’s Carrie for kids! The Thing About Jellyfish is a great story for older children, young teenagers, and it seems this 37 year old girl very much enjoyed it too. I would like to thank the publisher, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers for allowing me a copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Julie Christine

    On a Sunday evening a couple of weeks ago I met three friends for drinks and tapas at a favorite wine bar in town. We're writers, the three of us, one with nearly two dozen novels publishedshe and I are launching our next releases together in September, her 19th, my 2nd. Another will celebrate her debut, a literary fiction psychological thriller, in early 2018. And the third friend is in the agent query trenches with a novel that could be adult literary fiction or YA, depending on the spin and On a Sunday evening a couple of weeks ago I met three friends for drinks and tapas at a favorite wine bar in town. We're writers, the three of us, one with nearly two dozen novels published—she and I are launching our next releases together in September, her 19th, my 2nd. Another will celebrate her debut, a literary fiction psychological thriller, in early 2018. And the third friend is in the agent query trenches with a novel that could be adult literary fiction or YA, depending on the spin and the audience. Knowing what a crazy-gifted writer she is, we offered our support and wisdom, assuring her it was a matter of time before the right agent fell in love with her story. In the course of conversation about the crossover between YA and adult fiction, we talked about recent YA books we loved, we adults who read voraciously, but very, very choosily. And THE THING ABOUT JELLYFISH was one of the first books to enter the conversation. While the others swooned over its beauty, I made a mental note to pick up a copy. And once I did, the very next day at the literary fiction writer-friend's bookstore she owns with her poet-husband, I could not put it down. Suzy "Zu" Swanson is a misfit. Wiry, tangled hair when the fashion is sleek and straight, a brain that blurts out unfiltered bits of information when the situation calls for giggles and small talk. She just can't get it right. But it hardly matters when her best friend Franny is by her side. Jam and Bread. Peas in a pod. BFFs that get each other without having to question or explain. Until Franny begins to pull away, aligning herself with the social elite at their middle school, leaving Zu isolated and bewildered. The harder she tries to win Franny back, the more Zu stumbles and pushes her away. The very girls they once vowed they'd never let the other become are those who welcome Franny into their fold, while ostracizing the awkward Zu. Then tragedy strikes and the once-chatterbox Zu shuts down, refusing to speak, retreating into her sorrow like a turtle tucking into its shell. But her wiry brain continues apace, a young woman sifting through the mysteries of life, searching for logic in the inexplicable. And she finds what she believes to be the answer in the world of jellyfish. These ghostly creatures give her something tangible to hold onto in her grief. Ali Benjamin weaves Zu's jellyfish research, her exploration into the scientific method, and her deft plotting and planning into the narrative in a seamless way. The story is age-appropriate but sophisticated enough to hold young and older readers' attention with Zu's smart, aware, eager voice- one that she cannot use in the world, but that is offered to readers in warmth and curiosity. In a heartbreaking scene, Zu attempts to travel to Australia to meet a jellyfish expert. Her plan is that together, they will present to the world an explanation that will absolve her of the burden of her own grief, a burden far too great for a girl of twelve to bear. THE THING ABOUT JELLYFISH is a luminous portrait of friendship and grief, of the cruelty of youth and the resiliency of the human spirit. Younger readers will find solace in Zu's determination and big heart; older readers will marvel at the sensitivity and deep truths of a finely-wrought narrative. This is an exquisite novel.

  15. 4 out of 5

    carol.

    Is that they're jerks. That's all you need to know. (view spoiler)[ I used to think they were beautiful and bizarre little ocean aliens. However, while i was innocently gliding over some sea grass, I started running into a flock of the upside-down Cassiopeia jellies, which look a lot like anemones. Except that they aren't anchored, so that if they catch a current or a water disturbance, they float up and move around... so if you are trying to glide over some shallow sea grass and barely flutter Is that they're jerks. That's all you need to know. (view spoiler)[ I used to think they were beautiful and bizarre little ocean aliens. However, while i was innocently gliding over some sea grass, I started running into a flock of the upside-down Cassiopeia jellies, which look a lot like anemones. Except that they aren't anchored, so that if they catch a current or a water disturbance, they float up and move around... so if you are trying to glide over some shallow sea grass and barely flutter your feet, but the stupid wind is pushing you to where it's even shallower and where a flock of eight-inch Cassiopeias are chilling, you start to get a bit panicky. Either way, you end up with a nasty jellyfish sting along your ribcage. (hide spoiler)]

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kels

    It's peculiar how no-words can be better than words. Silence can say more than noise, in the same way that a person's absence can occupy even more space than their presence did." The Thing about Jellyfish reminded me of my love for middle grade books, and why no matter how old I get, I will always return to them. Check out my buddy Neil's glowing review for this amazingly heartfelt novel! I wanted to write a review, but his sums it up far better than I could do it justice. In the end, it's a “It's peculiar how no-words can be better than words. Silence can say more than noise, in the same way that a person's absence can occupy even more space than their presence did." The Thing about Jellyfish reminded me of my love for middle grade books, and why no matter how old I get, I will always return to them. Check out my buddy Neil's glowing review for this amazingly heartfelt novel! I wanted to write a review, but his sums it up far better than I could do it justice. “In the end, it's a gift to spend time with people we care about. Even if it's imperfect. Even if that time doesn't end when, or how, we expected. Even when that person leaves us.”

  17. 4 out of 5

    Theresa

    One of the best middle grade novels I've ever read. "The Thing About Jellyfish" by Ali Benjamin beautifully deals with the tragic aftermath of grief and loss. Suzy is a very unique and slightly eccentric 12 year-old who stops talking after the death of her best friend, Franny (who perished in a drowning accident). As she tries to process her grief, she becomes fascinated with jellyfish after a class trip to the aquarium. Suzy starts to ponder if maybe Franny could've been stung by a deadly One of the best middle grade novels I've ever read. "The Thing About Jellyfish" by Ali Benjamin beautifully deals with the tragic aftermath of grief and loss. Suzy is a very unique and slightly eccentric 12 year-old who stops talking after the death of her best friend, Franny (who perished in a drowning accident). As she tries to process her grief, she becomes fascinated with jellyfish after a class trip to the aquarium. Suzy starts to ponder if maybe Franny could've been stung by a deadly jellyfish (a Irukandji jellyfish) since Franny was such a strong swimmer. Suzy throws herself in researching everything she can about jellyfish. The writing was incredibly moving, and character development was spot-on. We see Suzy enter the different stages of grief in an accurate and effective way. This little novel is full of emotion. I could feel Suzy's pain, anger, and deep confusion through each chapter. I highly recommend it. Enjoy! Favorite quote: "And the whole while, your heart just keeps going. It does what it needs to do, one beat after another, until gets the message that it's time to stop, which might happen a few minutes from now, and you don't even know it. Because some hearts beat only about 412 million times. Which might sound like a lot, but the truth is, it barely even gets you twelve years".

  18. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca McNutt

    This frankly very strange yet wonderful middle-grade novel focuses on several themes, including grief, science and social isolation. How much is too much when it comes to mourning? When does loss become an obsession? How far should kids be pushed to say goodbye and let go of the past? These questioned are all addressed whilst Suzy tries her best to cling onto something she can understand. With the help of a caring teacher, she finds solace in science and starts learning how to move on.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Dani ❤️ Perspective of a Writer

    Check out more reviews @ Perspective of a Writer... 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 Check out more reviews @ Perspective of a Writer... 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. The short review... I had some trouble with this book. The mental health was all over the place. The split narrative while wonderful in the past parts was boring and slow in the present. We were told way, way too much in the present (used in adult contemporary books a lot) instead of shown (which is better for middle grade readers). And the worst offense was that it was clearly written for adult readers. The narrative is GORGEOUS! ...If the protagonist was a 40 year old woman... Okay, I'll take a 34 year old but that's as low as I go. Seriously the way disparate facts were woven together and point after point was made about the universe, jeeze an adult would barely be able to pull all that together. Yeah kids are smart, they come up with some doozies that shock you with their depth... but not 5 mind blowing conclusions within 3 pages!! If you wanted me to believe Suzy thought this then you've got to build the story so we understand HOW she came to these conclusions on her own. What inspired her? Where did it come from? Was it something her brother told her? Show us!! The theme is said to be grief but the way the split narrative bonded us to Suzy and Franny's friendship, I really think the real theme is friendship. What do we do when we lose our only friend? ANYONE can relate to losing a friend... not necessarily to death but to time, to other friends and interests. The only problem is that the friends Suzy could have become friends with weren't shown becoming friends! They just suddenly were in the end, as a salve to grief. While The Thing About Jellyfish needed some rewriting in my mind the narrative alone is so gorgeous!! Ignore the child protagonist and explore loss, grief and friendship... Cover & Title grade -> A+ I will admit that this cover totally sold The Thing About Jellyfish to me. It's melancholy but hopeful... We understand immediately that the jellyfish are a symbol of a greater idea. An adult and a middle grader would be attracted to the illustration, perfect for those buying for a young reader and a young reader both. What does The Thing About Jellyfish excel at? -Split narrative! This made the book so readable!! We are shown through back flashes how Suzy lost Franny way before Franny died. It's heartbreaking, it's all about friendship and it made you want Suzy to find new friends. The second person POV even heightened the emotions that you felt between Suzy and Franny... Ali Benjamin can clearly right!! -Socially awkward! The aspect of Suzy that I totally believed was her social awkwardness. This totally rang true. She's a smart girl. She learns well from her science teacher and pushes herself to talk when its that or fail. She just doesn't have a gauge about what to share or not share... but she learns!! We see through the lens of the past that she slowly put it together. She's not lost a friend before and this was her first and only friend. She had a learning curve... (aren't many of us socially awkward at first?!) -Jellyfish villain! I LOVE jellyfish... Okay, I used to love jellyfish, because this book totally killed that love. I didn't know jellyfish were a menace in the ocean. The facts... or should I say, the HARD TRUTHS about jellyfish all come out in The Thing About Jellyfish. Jellyfish are the villain and we see them from so many "based on real life" facts, including the authorities on jellyfish. -Processing Grief Logically! Suzy is taught a science system to solve problems. She's a really intelligent girl and applies that system to her grief. I found this so true to how kids today would try to process their feelings. She lost a friend and she can never change that now because that friend is dead. It's a hard thing and its emotional and learning that is so important for children. Coping mechanisms are built in our childhood!! -Family is important! Looking for that book that has solid parents? This is it. They aren't perfect but they clearly try and they love Suzy even in divorce. Her brother and his boyfriend are also there for Suzy. While I would have loved to have experienced their conversations with Suzy at the end I did love how they were portrayed so that kids can see... family is there for you. You feel alone, but you aren't!! As a Writer... I was super excited to read The Thing About Jellyfish because I noticed a review that said "she’s probably on the autism spectrum" though it never explicitly says. I love mental health of this nature and especially autism and asperger's syndrome which I know quite a bit about. And yeah there are some pretty textbook signs that are used in the course of the story. Problem was these signs weren't incorporated the way a person with autism would act. For example, Suzy chooses not to speak for a time and has a very logical reason why she chooses to be silent. Someone on the spectrum may be selectively mute but its not for some "reason." If they are selectively mute its not something that they choose to do and not do. It's about comfort level. It's organic. The way The Thing About Jellyfish portrays selective mutism in autistic children is how you would imagine a child without autism would choose to be silent. I have no problem with Suzy being an undiagnosed asperger's child. I have no problem with Suzy being a typical child going through a really hard time. But the interactions should match the back history. It really read like Suzy was a typical girl going through the loss of a friend. She's book smart but people slow. Not one of the signs of asperger's was used properly to me... IF the author intended Suzy to have the syndrome or be on the autism spectrum. Since the book didn't mention either way and the therapist in The Thing About Jellyfish who SHOULD have seen the signs said nothing to the parents I'm operating under the impression that Suzy is normal... Book smart but people slow. Mental health illustrated in books will always cause extreme opinions because its such a personal subject. We assume everyone has the same experiences and we assume the knowledge we have is absolutely correct. Even #ownvoices authors can muddle illustrating mental health issues because they are so close to the subject. As a writer myself to me its better to imagine the character and not the mental health when I'm writing... And I feel like even if Ali Benjamin was inspired by an asperger's list of signs it may be that Suzy turned out to just be really struggling and not autistic at all. The Thing About Jellyfish is a great read for older teens and adults. It's full of depth, great writing and a young protagonist you can't help rooting for. ⋆ ⋆ ⭐⭐⭐ Authenticity ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Writing Style ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⭐⭐ Plot & Pacing ⋆ ⋆ ⭐⭐⭐ World Building ______________________ You can find this review and many others on my book blog @ Perspective of a Writer. See my special perspective at the bottom of my reviews under the typewriter... Please like this review if you enjoyed it! *bow* *bow* It helps me out a ton!! It was exactly one month since the Worst Thing had happened, and almost as long since I’d started not-talking. Which isn’t refusing to talk, like everyone thinks it is. It’s just deciding not to fill the world with words if you don’t have to. It is the opposite of constant-talking, which is what I used to do, and it’s better than small talk, which is what people wished I did. My parents have a word for what I do—constant-talking , like that is a single word—and they explain to me that it is important to let others talk, too. Ask people questions, my mom always says. It’s not a conversation if you’re constant-talking. And I try to remember that, to ask people things. But you like it when I tell you things. You don’t need me to ask you questions. You have never once called what I do constant-talking. By now I was twelve years old and starting my second year of middle school. I knew a few things about grown-ups. And here’s one of the things I knew: Grown-ups are like everybody else—they don’t actually want you to say what you’re thinking. What my dad wanted, I suspect, was the thing everybody seems to want: small talk. But I don’t understand small talk. I don’t even understand why it’s called that—small talk—when it fills up so much space. Most of all, I don’t understand why small talk is considered more polite than not-talking. It’s like when people applaud after a performance. Have you ever heard someone not clap after a performance? People clap every time, no matter whether it was good or bad. They even applaud after the Eugene Field band plays its annual concert, and that’s really saying something. So wouldn’t it be easier and take less time and effort to just not clap? Because it would mean the same thing, which is nothing at all. In the end, not-talking means the same thing, more or less, as small talk. Nothing. Besides, I’ll bet so-called small talk has ended more friendships than silence ever did. Sometimes you want things to change so badly, you can’t even stand to be in the same room with the way things actually are. Whenever I think about those two days—about the space between you ending and me knowing—I think about the stars. Did you know that the light from our nearest star takes four years to reach us? Which means when we see it—when we see any star—we are really seeing what it looked like in the past. All those twinkling lights, every star in the sky, could have burned out years ago—the entire night sky could be empty this very minute, and we wouldn’t even know it. Near the corner of the room a sign said AN INVISIBLE ENIGMA. I knew what enigma meant—my mother often said I was one, especially when I dipped fried eggs in grape jelly or deliberately wore mismatched socks. Enigma means “mystery.” I like mysteries, so I walked over to read the sign. A photograph on the sign showed two fingers holding a tiny jar. Inside the jar, almost impossible to see, floated a transparent jellyfish about the size of a fingernail. “I can talk. When there’s something to say. And it was Beauty.” “Beauty?” “And the Beast. Her name was Belle.” “Oh.” He thought for a moment. “So does that make me the Beast?” I shrugged. “The Beast was a bad guy, right?” he asked. I shook my head. “He was okay. He just scared people who didn’t know him, that’s all.” “Huh,” said Justin. “That sounds about right.”

  20. 5 out of 5

    Anmiryam

    This book should be sold with a pack of kleenex. At least when it's being purchased by an adult. Kids will do just fine I suspect. It is a warm and wonderful blend of healing from loss, dealing with being in middle school and not fitting in, learning that you have the power to hurt someone and you won't always have the chance to make it up to them. It's about the beauty of science, the ecology of our planet. It's about the nature of bravery and heroism and family and love. So, I guess it's about This book should be sold with a pack of kleenex. At least when it's being purchased by an adult. Kids will do just fine I suspect. It is a warm and wonderful blend of healing from loss, dealing with being in middle school and not fitting in, learning that you have the power to hurt someone and you won't always have the chance to make it up to them. It's about the beauty of science, the ecology of our planet. It's about the nature of bravery and heroism and family and love. So, I guess it's about pretty much everything which may seem impossible in a 300 page novel for middle grade readers, but it seems to me that is the job of all the best books regardless of the targeted age of their audiences. This title has been getting a lot of buzz (Indies Introduce, BEA Middle Grade Buzz selection) and in my opinion, it deserves it. Plus, if you read it you'll pick up some very interesting facts about jellyfish that I'm pretty sure you don't already know -- useful at any age.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Brandice

    The Thing About Jellyfish is a young adult book centered on grief at a young age. Suzy, Zu, loses her best friend and in dealing with this tragic, unexpected loss, decides to minimize her speaking with the outside world. Its definitely a YA story but a touching one, that reminds readers of the traditionally tough age and mindset of middle-schoolers, and that everyone deals with grief in different ways. I also enjoyed the elements of Zus curiosity and interest in learning - Science was never a The Thing About Jellyfish is a young adult book centered on grief at a young age. Suzy, “Zu”, loses her best friend and in dealing with this tragic, unexpected loss, decides to minimize her speaking with the outside world. It’s definitely a YA story but a touching one, that reminds readers of the traditionally tough age and mindset of middle-schoolers, and that everyone deals with grief in different ways. I also enjoyed the elements of Zu’s curiosity and interest in learning - Science was never a favorite subject of mine, but the curious concepts are universal and can be applied to any area of interest. While The Thing About Jellyfish wasn’t one of my all-time favorites, I appreciated this story, which was also a quick read.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Praxedes

    This is a lovely YA book about a child's first encounter with the mourning process. Bereavement is never easy, but for children it seems to be particularly confusing. Benjamin tells us the story of a young teenage girl who loses her best friend and the difficulties she encounters coming to terms with this loss. It may be that I have not been a teenager for a while, but some of the passages seemed unnecessarily long to me. But when I asked my students about the pacing of this book they all liked This is a lovely YA book about a child's first encounter with the mourning process. Bereavement is never easy, but for children it seems to be particularly confusing. Benjamin tells us the story of a young teenage girl who loses her best friend and the difficulties she encounters coming to terms with this loss. It may be that I have not been a teenager for a while, but some of the passages seemed unnecessarily long to me. But when I asked my students about the pacing of this book they all liked it enormously! So it definitely works for the target audience! Highly recommended.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Anna Taylor

    LOVE. And am now spewing out jellyfish facts at the brunch table like a boss.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Colby Sharp

    Fans of Jennifer L. Holm's The Fourteenth Goldfish are going to love this one. It makes me happy to know that my daughters are growing up in a world where books show girl characters falling in love with science.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Swann

    I loved this so much! Such a sad and touching story. I loved how creative it was and the characters were so great. Loved it!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Dov Zeller

    "A jellyfish, if you watch it long enough, begins to look like a heart beating." So begins Ali Benjamin's first novel written from the perspective of a kid whose love of the natural and scientific world works as both a connective and disconnecting force in her life. The story moves back and forth in time between 1) Suzy's present predicament, as she struggles to cope with the loss of her once best friend Franny, and her guilt over their last few interactions, and tries to find her voice after "A jellyfish, if you watch it long enough, begins to look like a heart beating." So begins Ali Benjamin's first novel written from the perspective of a kid whose love of the natural and scientific world works as both a connective and disconnecting force in her life. The story moves back and forth in time between 1) Suzy's present predicament, as she struggles to cope with the loss of her once best friend Franny, and her guilt over their last few interactions, and tries to find her voice after losing her best friend twice, first for being something of a social outsider and not saying any of the "right" things, and then, with more finality, because Franny has died 2) the history of that friendship (in most alternating chapters), which ended not so well and not too long before Franny drowns during summer vacation. Somehow as she goes through the process of trying to make sense of Franny's death, Suzy becomes obsessed with swimmers and jellyfish and decides that Franny was too strong of a swimmer to just drown. She decides Franny's death was caused by the sting of the Irukandji Jellyfish, one of the msot deadly in the world. Otherwise it just seems too random, implausible and scary (that a person she knew and loved, and a really good swimmer, too, could just drown while hanging out on the Maryland coastline.) I think my favorite thing about this novel was the fact that the protagonist is into sciency stuff and a bit of social misfit. I enjoyed reading about jellyfish (though now I'm afraid of the tiny Irukandji that is so small it's barely visible and yet the sting can be deadly) and Suzy's relationship with her family is very sweet. I was horrified by Franny's middle-school nightmarish treatment of Suzy and baffled by Suzy's limited and yet perfect, eloquent self-awareness. Maybe the first-person narration didn't fully work for me. The structure was okay, but all in all, the book felt pretty similar to other YA stuff I've read. I don't know. It's good. A good book. Not amazing, and sometimes downright strange or bizarrely sinister (the whole frozen pee situation) but for the most part, an enjoyable read that would like to make us believe that if we are in middle school and feel alone, we shouldn't despair. Study intesting facts about non-human animals and we will eventually find our people!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Aoife

    I received a free digital copy from the author/publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest feedback. Suzy is 13 years old and dealing with the death of her best friend who drowned during the summer. When Suzy discovers the vast world of the jellyfish, she decides that a jellyfish sting must be why Franny died and sets out to prove it to the world. I wasn't expecting to love this book as much as I did but I absolutely adored it. It was much faster-paced than I expected too. I think because I I received a free digital copy from the author/publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest feedback. Suzy is 13 years old and dealing with the death of her best friend who drowned during the summer. When Suzy discovers the vast world of the jellyfish, she decides that a jellyfish sting must be why Franny died and sets out to prove it to the world. I wasn't expecting to love this book as much as I did but I absolutely adored it. It was much faster-paced than I expected too. I think because I knew there were a lot of jellyfish facts in it, I thought i would get a bit bogged down in them and it would slow down my reading but nope. I finished this book in one sitting. Ultimately this is a book about a girl who has just started her teenage years and discovering that the world is a much vaster and confusing place than she originally thought. And with Franny's death, Suzy has to confront the fact that dying is something that happens to young people, and that sometimes things like that just happen for no reason at all. I really found myself identifying with Suzy. Particularly her issues with friends and everyone growing up that bit faster than her. Her confusion over the sudden gap between her and Franny and why she was suddenly left behind while the girls did their make-up and flirted with the boys. I think a lot of people could feel for Suzy in this one, as she's not the only person who's ever felt left behind. I loved Suzy's relationships as well. Her family were all amazing. Yes, they did bring her to a therapist to talk about the not talking situation but they never pushed her, or grew frustrated with her. They were there waiting, ready for when she was ready to accept everything and be there for her when she did. Her brother and his boyfriend, yes. I love how there was no big deal about Aaron being gay. There was no in depth story about him coming out or any controversy in the family because of it. Her parents were divorced but still on talking terms, and seemed to still be on pretty good terms considering they were separated. I also loved Mrs Thurton and her quiet observations and suggestions. It's always great to see a good teacher/mentor-student relationship and a teacher really offering that safe haven for a student who just needs that time and space. Ans Justin was just lovely. I really loved his explanations of ADHD and how his medication helped. This book was such a pleasant surprise and I would really urge everyone to read it, just to see if it will surprise you too. And who knew there were so many interesting facts about jellyfish!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Mrs. Kay

    I honestly love books like this; where the synopsis has absolutely nothing to do with the story and the more you read, the more you discover, and the more you learn. I mean, yes, the basic premise of this book is about Suzy grieving over her friend Franny's death, but honestly...maybe it wasn't. Sometimes it's hard for me to remember being a kid or getting into the mindset of being a child. I do wonder if I was younger would I have enjoyed this? Would it have made an impact on me? I hope it I honestly love books like this; where the synopsis has absolutely nothing to do with the story and the more you read, the more you discover, and the more you learn. I mean, yes, the basic premise of this book is about Suzy grieving over her friend Franny's death, but honestly...maybe it wasn't. Sometimes it's hard for me to remember being a kid or getting into the mindset of being a child. I do wonder if I was younger would I have enjoyed this? Would it have made an impact on me? I hope it would but maybe I would have missed some of the messages about loneliness, being true to yourself, and bullying. To me, this book is simply about growing up and how difficult it may be to deal with some of those issues. Franny is Suzy's best friend, yet as they grow up she changes. Suzy likes the status quo of their relationship but things don't work that way and I think Suzy has to grow over the course of time. She has to find the ability to make new friends that share her general interests and appreciate her for her quirkiness, but she doesn't handle that especially well. I know there are a lot of people who have said they were surprised by this book because it's considered "middle grade" but seriously....when I first read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone it was considered "middle grade" (I was in 5th grade when I read it) and just because a book is written for a younger audience doesn't mean it needs to be dumbed down or written any differently than an adult themed book. I highly recommend this book.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Pamela

    The thing about The Thing About Jellyfish ... ... is that it reads like a love letter to jellyfish with a story wedged in there, uncomfortably. Way harsh, Tai? This is the kind of book you'll either love or not love. Ali Benjamin writes in the author's note that this book began as a paper she wrote about jellyfish that was rejected by a journal. I understand that as an author, your creations are precious; at the same time, you need to know when to let go of an idea. Now, the majority of readers The thing about The Thing About Jellyfish ... ... is that it reads like a love letter to jellyfish with a story wedged in there, uncomfortably. Way harsh, Tai? This is the kind of book you'll either love or not love. Ali Benjamin writes in the author's note that this book began as a paper she wrote about jellyfish that was rejected by a journal. I understand that as an author, your creations are precious; at the same time, you need to know when to let go of an idea. Now, the majority of readers really loved this book, and it was even shortlisted for a National Book Award. Let me be clear: it's very well-written. However, I'll turn that around and say that some parts were almost too perfect to be believable. I try to be very aware, when reading and reviewing children's books, that I am not the intended audience. However, I've noticed a trend that some children's books aren't really written for children. They're written for adults to notice and then hand out some prizes. I certainly don't think that all writers are mercenary in this respect; however, if your middle school character talks about the multiverse and recites box jellyfish facts, she's playing to the quirky smart outsider loner type that you'll find more in young adult or adult literary fiction. I do wonder how many kids read this book and cried--not just the people who reviewed this on Goodreads or who nominated it for awards. How many kids cared or sympathized with Zu? I want to do some sort of nationwide poll to figure this out. Let me give a quick rundown of the plot and perhaps my muddled Monday brain will make this more concrete. Zu (short for Suzy) hasn't said a word since starting seventh grade. Her best friend Franny died over the summer, drowned during a family trip to the ocean. Stricken with grief and guilt, Zu convinces herself that Franny didn't just drown. She was such a good swimmer--how could that happen? And one day, during a field trip to an aquarium, she hits on her answer: Franny was stung by jellyfish. Specifically, the Irukandji jelly. Zu becomes obsessed with jellies and tracks down several jelly experts to have them confirm her suspicions that the Irukandji migrated up to the East Coast and stung her friend, causing Franny's untimely death. Does this sound weird to you? Is it just me? I know we all deal with grief individually, and sometimes oddly. But Suzy's obsession isn't painted as being unhealthy; it's a sacred mission that she undertakes in order to solve the mystery of her friend's death. I enjoyed certain aspects of Benjamin's exploration of the family dynamic, but other parts felt false. Zu's brother Aaron and his boyfriend Rocco are just ... Zu's brother and his boyfriend. No big deal. Her parents are divorced, but her dad clearly still wants to be part of her life. Her parents are flummoxed by her refusal to speak, but I can't think that a parent whose child's best friend just died wouldn't recognize that their child is hurting so badly that she cannot speak. What is wrong with these people? And then there's middle school. The portrayal is accurate; however, I think that Zu's attitude and the author's treatment of what troubles her only add to the problem. Even though Zu and Franny have been best friends forever, Zu doesn't understand why Franny starts acting differently in middle school. Like saying she has a crush on a boy, and checking her clothes in the mirror, and trying to tame Zu's wild hair (note: I get it. Zu has frizzy hair. I do not need to hear this in every other chapter, thanks) with "product." That's totally NORMAL behavior for middle schoolers! Zu feels like she's being abandoned and that Franny is turning into a mean girl. There's this undercurrent of slut-shaming that I didn't like. Zu's disapproval of Franny's skirt length, for example. Or popping her hip around boys. In her world, and in this book, there is a strict divide between the weirdos, who are deep and thoughtful humans, and the popular kids, who are mean airheads. Nobody helps Franny understand that things change, and that people can't be friends forever. Things can't always stay the same. In fact, Zu is not the most sympathetic character. She freezes urine and puts it in Franny's locker as a "helpful hint" that Franny is becoming too self-absorbed. I beg your pardon. How does a person's mind even go there? Zu rationalizes that since urine is sterile, it's all good. Zu's fixation with certain topics, her constant mathematical calculations, and her inability to make small talk all fit her into the book mold of "ASD kid." Maybe she's on the spectrum, maybe she's not. But it's not okay to excuse her behavior by implying that she's ASD. Even though the readers are meant to believe that Zu's punishment is her guilt over Franny's death, she never really has to confess what she's done. At the end of the book, what has she learned? Well, she's learned more than I ever cared to know about jellyfish. She learned that you can't go to a foreign country without a visa. She made a new friend who maybe like-likes her but maybe not and ugh. Cue the triumphant music as she walks through the doors to her first school dance. Everyone was saying that this book made them sob and ripped their heart open and other dramatic confesssions of that ilk. Am I made of stone? I felt nothing while reading this except frustration with Zu. Did I miss the point? I never discount that as a possibility. But there is more attention given to Zu's ability to memorize interesting facts about jellyfish and muse about how our choices can give birth to multiple universes and all sorts of quantum mechanics than there is to developing her as a person. And again I circle back to: how many kids will love this book because of Suzy's (admittedly eloquent) discussions of our atomic makeup or biodiversity or the science topic du jour? If I'm wrong and everyone who loves this book is twelve years old, then mea culpa. I don't feel like I have a proper way to end this, because I don't feel much at all. Disappointed, I feel that. But otherwise? "Meh" would be an accurate verbal response.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Anne ✨

    "This stunning debut novel about grief and wonder was an instant New York Times bestseller and captured widespread critical acclaim." Yes! This book really is as good as the blurb says^ The story centers on a bright, inquisitive and awkward 12year old, Suzy ("Zu"), who is trying to make sense of her adolescent world. Her parents have divorced, her classmates tease her, and her best friend Franny has just died in a drowning accident. Suzy is convinced Franny's death had to be caused by a rare "This stunning debut novel about grief and wonder was an instant New York Times bestseller and captured widespread critical acclaim." Yes! This book really is as good as the blurb says^ The story centers on a bright, inquisitive and awkward 12year old, Suzy ("Zu"), who is trying to make sense of her adolescent world. Her parents have divorced, her classmates tease her, and her best friend Franny has just died in a drowning accident. Suzy is convinced Franny's death had to be caused by a rare jellyfish sting and sets out to prove her theory. While the story does cover grief, it's more hopeful than sad, with lots of heart and humor along the way. Zu is a real spark of a character, with a sense of wonder that's infectious, and an encyclopedic level of knowledge that just spills out of her in a manner that's more endearing than annoying. (she reminds me a bit of 9 yr old Frank, in Be Frank with Me). With its beautiful cover and inside illustrations (which I could not stop looking at the whole time I was reading), I'd recommend the physical book, it adds to the sense of wonder you'll feel as you read it! - -- To be made into a movie: MWM Studios (formerly OddLot Entertainment) acquired the screen rights to the novel in January 2017. Gigi Pritzker, Bruna Papandrea, and Weatherspoon were named as the producers.

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