The Theory of Everything
When I read Johnson's debut This Girl is Different, I knew she had a good hand for telling the tough teenage stories. The Theory of Everything is another great example of the raw, rough edges of being a teen in the world -- and what it means to grow through those experiences.
Last year, Sarah's best friend Jamie died. In the school gym. In a super crazy freak accident. And Sarah was right there when it happened. Needless to say, Sarah had a hard time coping - grieving - moving on. Especially since she's haunted by what she could (or could not) have done to help save Jamie's life. When Sarah witnesses another freak accident in the gym, a chain of events is put in motion that forces her to take a good, honest look at not only how to move on, but to accept that it's okay to move on.
With colorful characters (both human and animal) and raw, heart-wrenching honesty, Johnson spins a story that keeps you reading. All the details from Jamie's death aren't known up front, as readers we live the events as Sarah remembers, slowly -- and at times, painfully. Life is hard, and learning how to handle the hardest parts of life takes practice and a whole lot of trial and error. But you have to make the decision to keep living, keep pushing, not letting all the junk drag you down, and this - ultimately - is what I feel Sarah learns along the way. The Theory of Everything isn't one of those happy-go-lucky contemporary reads, but it has a definite message of hope.
ARC provided by publisher for review.