I am slowly but surely reading some of the books of 2015 I missed. The Thing About Jellyfish, Ali Benjamin’s debut novel, is one I am very glad I took the time out to read.
Author’s Summary: Suzy Swanson is pretty sure she knows the real reason Franny Jackson died. Everyone says that there’s no way to be certain…that sometimes things just happen. But Suzy knows there must be a better explanation—a scientific one. Haunted by the loss of her former best friend — and by a final, terrible moment that passed between them — she retreats into a silent world of her own imagination. Convinced that Franny’s death was the result of a freak jellyfish sting, she crafts a plan to prove the truth, even if it means traveling around the globe… alone. As she prepares, she learns astonishing things about the universe around her… and discovers the potential for love and hope in her own backyard.
There are several different kinds of grief in this book: the grief over the death of a friend, the grief over the end of a friendship, the grief over the divorce of parents. And Suzy has to deal with all of these. Reading The Thing About Jellyfish I remembered what it was like to be that 7th grade girl who felt on the outside of everything. We’ve all been there, though it isn’t always in middle school.
Benjamin packs a lot into the 320 pages of the book. Despite the emotional content, she never lets it get away from her; this is a well controlled novel and Suzy’s attempt to deal with her grief and regret unfold naturally. Although the story is painful, I highly recommend it. You will also learn a lot of interesting jellyfish facts!