The Theory of Everything by JJ Johnson

theory of everything

Last year, Sarah’s best friend Jamie died in a freak accident. Back then, everyone was sad; now they’re just ready for Sarah to get over it and move on.

But Sarah’s not ready to move on. She can’t stop reliving what happened, struggling with guilt, questioning the meaning of life, and missing her best friend. Her grades are plummeting, her relationships are falling apart, and her normal voice seems to have been replaced with a snark box. Life just seems random: no pattern, no meaning, no rules – and no reason to bother.

In a last-ditch effort to pull it together, Sarah befriends Jamie’s twin brother Emmett, who may be the only other person who understands what she’s lost. And when she gets a job working for the local eccentric who owns a Christmas tree farm, she finally begins to understand the threads that connect us all, the benefit of giving people a chance, and the power of love.

Summary from Goodreads

The Theory of Everything was the Cybils finalist that I had heard nothing–literally nothing–about before it was selected. And it was not in either of my library systems. But the publisher kindly sent me a nice hardback copy and I’m glad they did. I very much enjoyed Sarah’s story and would recommend this one to any number of people.

Sarah’s voice is really what makes this story–she’s snarky and tender and funny. She’s also younger than most contemporary YA protagonists. She’s fifteen, and in certain ways it shows. She can bounce between wise beyond her years and young for her age, sometimes on the same page. I like that fact and I think it’s one part of the teen appeal, especially for slightly younger teens who might struggle to find themselves in general YA.

I also liked the fact that some of the plotlines weren’t necessarily resolved. It gave an open-ended feeling to the story. At the same time, there were a few coincidences that were very coincidental. As a reader, this is something that usually doesn’t bother me since I see fiction as not necessarily needing to conform to the rules of real life. In this case, though, I felt that it was a little more problematic.

That aside, I think that The Theory of Everything is a great book. It’s full of humor and honesty and heart. It deals with some big topics–life, death, love, etc–but does so in a light and gentle way. I’m glad that I read it, and I hope more people pick it up as a result of the Cybils mention.

Book source: review copy provided by publishers for the 2012 Cybils
Book information: Peachtree Publishers, 2012; YA (possible cross over for mg)

1 Comment

Filed under bookish posts, reviews

One response to “The Theory of Everything by JJ Johnson

  1. Pingback: February 2012 reading list | By Singing Light

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