On the surface, The Thing About Jellyfish is a middle-grade book about a girl named Suzy struggling with the death of a former best friend. But when you look closer, you see a girl struggling with much more than that - the divorce of her parents, growing up, not having anyone to talk to, feeling like a pariah even in her own home - and now the guilt of feeling like she failed her friend. As Suzy nears adolescence, she begins to realize how uncertain the world is, and the uncertainty surrounding her best friend Franny's death is no exception. Unsatisfied with the explanation that "sometimes things just happen," Suzy embarks on a journey towards discovering what truly caused her friend's untimely death.
Although this book deals with themes that some readers might not have experienced themselves, like the death of a friend and being bullied at school, everyone can identify with at least one aspect of the story - whether it's feeling like someone who is out of place in this world or being abandoned or mistreated by someone they love. Above all, it's a coming-of-age story, Suzy's development as a character marked with her eventual satisfaction with not having all the answers. The writing is excellent and thought-provoking, and each character feels real and authentic, all the way down to each of Suzy's thoughts and feelings. A recommended read for those of all ages - but especially, (for whom the author dedicates the book) "for curious kids everywhere."