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The Theory of Everything

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Johnson (This Girl Is Different) takes an up-close look at the enormous impact of a best friend’s death in a story about a girl’s struggle to make sense of the senseless. Fifteen-year-old Sarah has been acting like a different person ever since she witnessed the gruesome accident that killed her best friend, Jamie. Sarah’s grades are plunging, her sarcastic attitude is putting her family on edge, and she can’t escape the feeling that life is random and meaningless. Sarah’s turning point comes after she meets middle-aged Roy, who owns a Christmas tree farm where Sarah begins to work. Readers will easily relate to Sarah’s use of cynicism as a defense mechanism—her sharp-witted voice sets the tone for a story that’s truly tragicomic. Equally entertaining are the hand-drawn graphs and diagrams that appear throughout (texts, stern lectures, tense silence, and breakfast constitute the bulk of a pie chart about Sarah’s communication with her mother). The changes within Sarah are real and moving, and the open ending underscores the idea that although death may be certain, life is full of surprises. Ages 12–16. (Oct.)
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Sarah, 15, is trying to deal with the death of her longtime best friend. She divides her life into Before Jamie Died (BJD) and Since Jamie Died (SJD). She is overwhelmed with guilt because she was operating the moving wall when it malfunctioned and crushed her friend. Now she avoids the gym as much as possible, but she has to go to her locker to pick up some supplies. As she's leaving, a deer crashes through the windows. It brings back the day Jamie died and takes her back into the orbit of Jamie's family, especially her twin brother, Emmett, who seems to be the only person who understands what she is feeling. An incident with her dog brings her to the attention of Roy Showalter, the man who cleaned up the deer and who runs a Christmas tree farm. Sarah begins working for him at the farm and at his Christmas stand. Through the hard work with Roy, she allows herself to move on and make new friends and learns that people can only help if you open up and let them. The doodle-illustrated pages with Sarah's theories about everything look like something a teenage girl would put in her journal and add to the story. These, along with Sarah's nearly constant snarkiness, make this a story with which most teens can identify, even if they have not lost a close friend. Add to collections where books by Sarah Dessen, Maureen Johnson, and Deb Caletti are popular.—Suanne B. Roush, Osceola High School, Seminole, FL
Kirkus Reviews
Sarah has a theory about BFF Jamie's death, but no one wants to hear it. Even though Jamie's recent death in the school gym was an accident, 15-year-old Sarah Jones can't help but wonder about her own culpability in the incident. Her snarky, conversational present-tense narration is filled with graphs, charts, and maps about her life, as well as numerous Star Wars references and capitalized words. In it, she hides her guilt and grief through sarcasm. It doesn't help that her hot boyfriend wants to have sex or that she feels herself growing closer to Jamie's twin brother, Emmett, who also wants to know the truth about his sister's death. When she witnesses a deer crash through a gym window and die in the exact spot as Jamie, she discovers that in the mythology of the Ancient Scythians (cultures in Russia, China, Romania and central Asia), this swift animal was believed to speed the spirit of the dead on its way. Perhaps it's not Jamie who needs the help moving on. A run-in with the seemingly odd custodian (aka Captain Possum because of his equally strange pet possum) sent to clean up the dead deer sets Sarah on the path to healing and forgiveness. Despite the story's rushed ending, Sarah's snappy yet pithy observations will appeal to teens working on their own theories about life. (Fiction. 14 & up)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781561456239
  • Publisher: Peachtree Publishers, Ltd.
  • Publication date: 10/1/2012
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 414,101
  • Age range: 13 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: HL560L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 1.50 (d)

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