October 20th, 2015 by Nancy
Franny Jackson died in a swimming accident. She was Suzy Swanson’s best friend.
Both of those sentences are kind of true.
In Ali Benjamin’s book The Thing About Jellyfish, 12-year-old Suzy Swanson discovers that her former best friend, Franny, has died in a swimming accident — but Suzy doesn’t think it’s an accident. Since Franny was an excellent swimmer, Suzy is convinced Franny was killed by the sting of the small and extremely deadly Irukandji jellyfish.
Suzy, we discover, is a budding scientist — even if she doesn’t realize it yet. She collects data, researches other people who are studying jellyfish, and decides that she must travel to Australia to get the answers she needs. While Suzy investigates Irukandji jellyfish — determined to prove that Franny’s death was no accident — we also find out from flashbacks how they became best friends, and how they became not-friends. It’s heartbreaking, but in the best way.
Side note: Have you ever accidentally spilled some water or juice on your book, and then after it dries, it looks puffy like a floppy accordion? Well, that’s how my copy of The Thing About Jellyfish looks now, because I’m a clumsy idiot — but it’s just as well, because my face spilled a lot of tears while reading this book.
Side-side note: I usually do not like reading sad books and prefer books that have… butt jokes. But this book was really good and I couldn’t put it down! Even though it made me cry, it also made me smile a lot. It made me think about all of my friends (hello, friends, if you’re reading this!), growing up, discovering your passions, and accepting others for their weird eccentricities.
Let me just weave back out of these side notes… where was I? This book is perfect for you if you have a best friend, or even if you just wish you had a best friend. And even though it’s not exactly a mystery in a traditional sense, following Suzy’s journey in coming to terms with Franny’s death was very intriguing.
The Thing About Jellyfish has only been on shelves for a month, but I hope some of you have read it or will read it soon! Leave a comment and let us know what you think.
Nancy is extremely frightened of jellyfish, not only because they look like aliens that live in the ocean (which is the terrifying “space of the earth”), but because of this: