Tag Archives: Ali Benjamin

Review: The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin

The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali BenjaminThe Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

When Suzy’s best friend dies in a drowning accident, Suzy’s mother says sometimes things just happen. The loss and senselessness of it leave Suzy unmoored. Then she learns about a rare, deadly jellyfish that may have been spotted in waters near where her friend swam. If Suzy can prove why her friend died, maybe the awful ache inside her will go away. Maybe she’ll be able to explain it to everyone. Her effort to prove her case will lead her halfway around the world. But her tenacity and wit will bring her friendship much closer to home.

This is one of those books I couldn’t help loving. Suzy seems like she may be on the autistic spectrum, but that never really enters into the narrative. It’s clear that among her peers she’s a bit of an odd duck, and she longs to fit in, despite her frequent inability to say the “right thing.” Her family members added a great deal to the story without intruding on Suzy’s space. Each character felt real, complex, as if they were the type of family one might encounter anywhere in America.

The one moment that rang false to me was when Suzy plans to use her father’s credit card and times her transaction to be a few days before he receives his credit card statement. I wasn’t sure that I really believed a kid her age would think of that. It was a small moment, though.

Benjamin brings to the story this keen sense of the grief process, and the sense of helplessness that bystanders often feel when someone they love is deeply grieved. With its message of hope and the amazing facts about the humble jellyfish, The Thing About Jellyfish would make an excellent classroom aid or recommended reading assignment for sixth or seventh grade.

Recommended especially for readers who enjoyed Rain Reign by Ann Martin or Nest by Esther Ehrlich.

Language Content
No profanity.

Sexual Content
Suzy watches her brother Aaron and his boyfriend exchange a kiss.

Spiritual Content

Girls pick on each other. It’s not violence, but it is hurtful bullying. One girl spits on another’s face. A girl soaks another girl’s locker items with pee.

Drug Content

Upcoming Reviews for September 2015

September is my favorite month. It’s the peak of the season for afternoon thunderstorms in Central Florida, and reading is the perfect thing to do during a thunderstorm. It’s also the month when two important things happen – my wedding anniversary and my birthday. This September also happens to be a busy month for book reviews! Here are a few you can expect to see in the coming weeks at The Story Sanctuary.

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Madeline is allergic to the outside world. Then she meets Olly, a neighbor boy, and the romantic tension ensues. I’m excited but nervous about reading this book. After being blown away by Because You’ll Never Meet Me earlier this year, I’m afraid I’ll compare the two, and I don’t know how that will go. I am definitely open to love it.


The Firebug of Balrog County by David Oppegaard

A small town hits hard times, and Mack only knows one way to relieve the tension building inside him: find something to burn. How can a pyromaniac be a hero? I’m curious about this, too. So far everything I’ve read about this book has been positive. I love angsty YA, and I’m a huge fan of Flux books, so I’m definitely eager to crack the cover of this novel.

The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin

Grief is such an important issue, and it’s one that our culture doesn’t really handle so well. (But that’s another topic.) This novel focuses on a girl who lost her best friend, she believes, because of a rare jellyfish sting. She sets out on a journey to prove her theory.

The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow

This looks like a dystopian novel in which the children of world leaders are raised in seclusion, trained for the day in which they may be used in a hostage exchange to keep peace between nations. It looks dark but like it has real potential to explore some human rights issues. I’m excited to check it out.

I Crawl Through It by A. S. King

I’ve been on a bit of a streak reading YA novels that deal with some heavy mental health issues. This one follows four teens as they battle their way through dealing with trauma. The copy on Goodreads and NetGalley reference possibly some multiple personality or delusions.


Killer Instinct by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (The Naturals #2)

A team of teens possess special abilities (not like X-men, more like, super-geniuses at certain things like lie-spotting or profiling) which make them indispensable to the FBI. It’ll take all their gifts to stop a serial killer before he snatches his next victim. Suspense isn’t my usual go-to, but this novel definitely appealed to me. I like that it focuses on the relationships between characters as well as this pressing mystery.

Lullaby by Amanda Hocking (Watersong #2)

I’ve actually read this before and for some reason never managed to write up a review. I’m listening to the audiobook version and will write my review from that. It’s about a girl who was tricked into becoming a Siren. Only after she’s transformed does she realize a few of the downsides: she can’t leave her Siren sisters; she must eat the heart of a boy to survive; and she must spend time in the ocean water or she’ll die. (The heart-eating sounds super gross, but it’s not described in the story.)

Battle of Beings by Nita Tarr (War Child #1)

This sounds a little bit like a cross between This Present Darkness and Eragon? The description intrigues me, so I’m giving it a go this month.