THE THING ABOUT JELLYFISH by Ali Benjamin is the touching story of a seventh-grade girl dealing with the death of a friend.
When Zu learns of her friend’s accidental drowning, she slowly withdraws and stops talking. Through flashbacks, we learn the story of their friendship and why she’s haunted by guilt. In her quest for solace and answers, she dives into an exploration of jellyfish in the hopes of solving the mystery of Franny’s death. Although she shuns family and friends with her single-minded quest, they’re understanding and supportive.
By exploring the death of a friend from the perspective of a bewildered child, Benjamin provides interesting insights into the confusion and devastation distinct to young grievers.
Although written for the middle grades, librarians will enjoy the authentic storyline that bridges into young adult interest. The mixture of chapter introductions focusing on the scientific method, fascinating information about jellyfish, and heart-wrenching flashbacks sets this novel apart from other works of realistic fiction on the topic of dealing with the death of a friend. With lots of opportunities for thought-provoking discussions, this well-written work of realistic fiction would be a great choice for literature circles.
Look for this title to appear on Newbery short lists. It’s a winner!
Learn more about the author at http://alibenjamin.com.
Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Hachette on September 22.