It is really difficult to write an honest novel about the experience of grief for kids, but Ali Benjamin proves that she is more than up to the task in this startlingly authentic debut for middle readers. Starring a headstrong, investigative girl, The Thing About Jellyfish illuminates how grief, denial, and questions of (im)mortality can confuse and even consume the most "clear-headed" and scientific of us. Deeply perceptive, Benjamin's novel will become a new favorite of fans of highly acclaimed novels such as Mockingbird, Counting by 7s, and Bridge to Terabithia.; Ages 9-13, give or take a year. — Aubrey Restifo
"How do you say goodbye?" asks Suzy after months of silence as she struggles to understand how her best friend could have died in a swimming accident when she was, in fact, an excellent swimmer. Ali Benjamin nails the grief process as well as the painful shift of middle school friendships and the crushing battle of trying to fit in. I was nearly hyperventilating during the last 20 pages as Suzy comes to terms with her loss. As a parent reading this, my heart broke over and over again for Suzy's parents, her best friend's parents, and those I've known who have lost a child. Five stars, for sure.
— Gail Cosgriff
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!
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.
Oddlot Entertainment has acquired the screen rights to The Thing About Jellyfish, with Gigi Pritzker set to produce with Bruna Papandrea and Reese Witherspoon.
About the Author
Ali Benjamin is a National Book Award Finalist for The Thing About Jellyfish, and the co-writer for HIV-positive teen Paige Rawl's coming-of-age memoir Positive as well as Tim Howard's New York Times bestseller The Keeper. She is a member of New England Science Writers and has written for TheBoston GlobeMagazine, Martha Stewart's Whole Living, and Sesame Street. She lives in Massachusetts.
*"A painful story smartly told, Benjamin's first solo novel has appeal well beyond a middle school audience."
—Kirkus Reviews, 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."—Publishers Weekly, 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."—School Library Journal, 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."—Booklist, 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."—VOYA, starred review
"There are...a lot of children who might not only benefit from this book but also find themselves deeply moved by it."—New York Times Book Review
"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."—Shelf Awareness
"A heartfelt read for kids and adults." —First for Women Magazine