“Maybe if we can stop being so afraid, we can remember that all of the creatures on this earth are made of stardust. And we’re the only ones who get to know it.”
When Suzy’s best (and only) friend Franny drowns, Suzy stops speaking. On a school trip to the aquarium she discovers the rare but deadly Irukanji jellyfish, and becomes convinced that it must have been to blame for Franny’s death – after all: how else could such a strong swimmer have succumbed to the water?
Ali Benjamin’s debut novel is an amazing and heart-rending depiction of grief and loss from the point of view of a twelve year old child. The story is split into sections, roughly following the layout of the science report that Suzy is creating throughout the book, reflecting Suzy’s attempts to bury herself in science and prove jellyfish to be the cause of Franny’s death.
With themes of loneliness, grief, and guilt, this book really does pull at your heartstrings. It’s a perfect fit for anyone who enjoyed books such as Wonder by R.J. Palacio or Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan, but it might be a bit lost on most readers below the age of 10 or 11, though it’s perfect for able readers in year 6. It’s also completely full of some incredible facts about jellyfish – perfect for anyone who has been watching Blue Planet 2 and found themselves captivated by the beautiful yet deadly creatures!
I really enjoyed reading The Thing About Jellyfish and believe it definitely deserved its place as a finalist for the National Book Awards 2015.
Little Brown Books have also produced an educator guide for this book, which can be accessed here.