I first discovered J.J. Johnson last year when her first book, This Girl is Different, came out. I loved it and reviewed it for the blog here, so I was really excited to get my Amazon pre-order of her follow up, The Theory of Everything. I was not, however, prepared for the totally completely overwhelming awesomeness that is The Theory of Everything. When I was finished with the book, pretty much all I could say was, Wow!
The Theory of Everything is about fifteen-year-old Sarah, whose best friend, Jamie, died about eight months before the book begins. The world has moved on, but Sarah’s life will never be the same. She’s pushed away her other friends and family and can’t even begin to go near Jamie’s twin brother, Emmett, or Jamie’s parents. She still has her sexy boyfriend, but she’s going through the motions. Sarah’s voice is humorous and realistic, never becoming depressing but never letting us forget what she’s going through. Sarah’s main comfort is her dog, Ruby, and even though personally I’m not a dog lover, I totally got it. I felt like I was inside a real person’s head, and all the external characters were painfully real. I don’t recommend reading the front cover copy, because it gives away plot stuff that I’m glad I didn’t know before reading.
There were several places where I cried yet no places where I felt manipulated. There were no brightly painted signs saying, “This is so sad! Cry here!” Just real, believable emotions naturally worked into a heartbreaking and heartwarming story. If I was on all those fancy awards committees, I’d have The Theory of Everything at the top of my list. Everyone go out and read this book now!
Cover image courtesy Peachtree Publishers