THE THING ABOUT JELLYFISH

Ali Benjamin

Now available in paperback, this 2015 National Book Award finalist and instant New York Times bestseller is a stunning debut novel about grief and wonder.

Everyone says that it was an accident… that sometimes things “just happen”. But Suzy won’t believe it. Ever. After her best friend dies in a drowning accident, Suzy is convinced that the true cause of the tragedy was a rare jellyfish sting. 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,

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Now available in paperback, this 2015 National Book Award finalist and instant New York Times bestseller is a stunning debut novel about grief and wonder.

Everyone says that it was an accident… that sometimes things “just happen”. But Suzy won’t believe it. Ever. After her best friend dies in a drowning accident, Suzy is convinced that the true cause of the tragedy was a rare jellyfish sting. 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.

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  • Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  • Paperback
  • April 2017
  • 352 Pages
  • 9780316380843

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$8.99

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About Ali Benjamin

Ali Benjamin grew up outside New York City, in a rickety old house that neighbors thought was haunted. As a child she spent countless hours catching bugs and frogs; The Thing About Jellyfish emerged from her fascination with the natural world. She is the cowriter of HIVpositive teen Paige Rawl’s coming-of-age memoir Positive, as well as Tim Howard’s bestseller The Keeper. She is a member of New England Science Writers. She lives in rural Massachusetts with her husband, two kids, and Australian shepherd named Mollie.

Author Website

The Thing About Jellyfish was the RGC Group’s October 2016 book. Read our Q&A with Ali!

Praise

National Book Award Finalist
New York Times Bestseller
National Bestseller
Amazon Editors Best Book
Booklist Top Ten First Novel
Publishers Weekly Best Book
Hudson Booksellers Best Young Readers Book
Bank Street College Distinguished Children’s Book
New York Public Library 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing
Cooperative Children’s Book Center Children’s Choices Book

Heartfelt and fascinating.”—The New York Times

[A] graceful and idiosyncratic debut.”—The Wall Street Journal

An uncommonly fine first novel.”Booklist (starred review)

Superbly written [and] heartfelt.”School Library Journal (starred review)

A moving portrayal of loss and healing.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Appeal well beyond a middle school audience.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

The novel has it all.VOYA (starred review)

Discussion Questions

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?

Interviews

RGC picked The Thing About Jellyfish for our RGC Group’s October 2016 Book. You can read about the book, and our questions and answers with the author, Ali Benjamin, on our blog here. Enjoy!