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Cover for The Thing About Jellyfish

The Thing About Jellyfish

Ali Benjamin


List Price: 8.99*
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Other Editions of This Title:
Digital Audiobook (9/21/2015)
Hardcover (9/22/2015)
Library Binding, Large Print (3/20/2019)
CD-Audio (10/13/2015)
Prebound (4/4/2017)


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.

Praise For The Thing About Jellyfish

*"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

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 9780316380843, 352pp.

Publication Date: April 4, 2017

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.

Conversation Starters from

1. How does the scientific method affect how Suzy deals with Franny’s death? How does it guide the structure of the novel?

2. After Franny dies, Suzy decides to start “not-talking.” She claims, “In the end, not-talking means the same thing, more or less, as small talk. Nothing.” What brings Suzy to this conclusion? Do you agree or disagree with it?

3. While researching jellyfish, Suzy learns about real-life long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad, who attempted to swim from Cuba to Florida four times only to be forced to stop due to jellyfish stings; she eventually succeeded on her fifth attempt. How does Diana’s perseverance relate to Suzy’s quest to prove a jellyfish stung Franny? How does it differ from it?

4. At the beginning of the novel, Suzy dismisses her classmate Sarah as a mean, popular girl and her classmate Justin as a messy rule-breaker. How do her opinions of them change and become more complex?

5. Right before Franny dies, Suzy slips frozen urine into her locker to “send a signal” that she has become a bad person. What else could Suzy have done to reach out to Franny? Do you think they could have become friends again?

6. How does what Dr. Legs describes as “your own truth” differ from what Suzy sees as “the truth”? Are those concepts equivalent in your mind, or are they separate?

7. Why do you think author Ali Benjamin chooses not to have Suzy make it to Australia? Are you disappointed that you didn’t get to meet the character Dr. Jamie Seymour? What may have happened if Suzy had succeeded in her quest?

8. Jellyfish are amazing creatures! What did you learn about jellyfish from reading this book? What is “the thing” about jellyfish for Suzy? What significance do jellyfish now hold for you?