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The Thing About Jellyfish
by Ali Benjamin

Published: 2015-09-22
Hardcover : 352 pages
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Recommended to book clubs by 1 of 1 members
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! Oddlot Entertainment has acquired the screen rights to The Thing About Jellyfish, with Gigi ...
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Introduction

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! Oddlot Entertainment has acquired the screen rights to The Thing About Jellyfish, with Gigi Pritzker set to produce with Bruna Papandrea and Reese Witherspoon.

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.

Editorial Review

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Excerpt

GHOST HEART

A JELLYFISH, IF YOU WATCH IT LONG ENOUGH, begins to look like a heart beating. It doesn’t matter what kind: the blood-red Atolla with its flashing siren lights, the frilly flower hat variety, or the near-transparent moon jelly, Aurelia aurita. It’s their pulse, the way they contract swiftly, then release. Like a ghost heart—a heart you can see right through, right into some other world where everything you ever lost has gone to hide. ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

1) The explanation “it just happened” is a driving force behind Suzy’s search for answers. Is it a reasonable answer to a tragedy, unexpected or otherwise? And does a true answer—riptide, jellyfish sting, seizure—automatically negate the explanation that “things do just happen?”

2) Is it important/necessary to have an answer for everything? Are believable justifications something that become more or less crucial to our understanding of the world as we grow up? And is this a good or bad thing? Discuss.

3) Suzy places a lot of importance on recognizing beginnings and endings. Do you believe it is important to be aware of whether each action or moment will serve as an opener or closer on a certain chapter of your life? Why or why not?

4) Mrs. Legs, as Suzy calls her, truly seems to want to support Suzy. However, do you think she honestly recognizes Suzy’s difficulty or simply hears/sees what she wants to? What would you do in her situation?

5) Suzy is bullied for her differences, especially her apparent disinterest in others’ judgments. But, for all of Franny’s cruelty toward her, she ultimately admires Suzy’s tenacity. In the end, does it seem more beneficial to concern yourself with others opinions, as Franny does, or, like Suzy, to act regardless of societal norms/pressures?

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

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Member Reviews

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  "The Thing About Jellyfish"by SusanBoulos (see profile) 07/18/17

This book came to me with impeccable timing, causing me to reflect on my own friendships with a new perspective. With wit and charm, the main character mourns the death of her former best friend the only... (read more)

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