Project Description


The Theory of Everything

by J. J. Johnson

Just because everyone else thinks you should be over it, doesn’t mean you are.

Last year, Sarah’s best friend Jamie died in a freak accident. Back then, everyone was sad; now they’re 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. 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.

Critically acclaimed author J.J. Johnson gives readers a powerful look at the later stages of grief when the rest of the world has seemingly moved on.

Format: Hardcover
Price: $16.95
ISBN:  978-1-56145-623-9
Publication Date: 10/1/2012
Page Count: 336
Size: 5-1/4″ x 8″
Age Range: 12 – 16
Language: English
Format: Paperback
Price: $9.95
ISBN: 978-1-56145-889-9
Publication Date: 10/1/2015
Page Count: 320
Size: 5-1/4″ x 8″
Age Range: 12 – 16
Language: English
Format: eBook
ISBN: 978-1-56145-932-2
Age Range: 12 – 16
Language: English

Purchase this eBook through the following vendors:


AR Level: 3.9
GRL: Z+, Gr 9th & up
Lexile: HL560L
Themes: Connections, Friendship, Grief, Recovery
BISAC 1: YAF058050  YOUNG ADULT FICTION / Social Themes / Death & Dying
BISAC 2: YAF058110  YOUNG ADULT FICTION / Social Themes / Emotions & Feelings
BISAC 3: YAF011000  YOUNG ADULT FICTION / Coming of Age


“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.” ―Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Sarah’s snappy yet pithy observations will appeal to teens working on their own theories about life.” ―Kirkus Reviews

“The doodle-illustrated pages with Sarah’s theories about everything…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.” ―School Library Journal

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“Where The Theory of Everything stood out for me was in how deliberate the voice was in accurately capturing everything Sarah was feeling… As a result, Sarah felt more real and current to me than perhaps any other character I’ve read this year, her story leaping off the page to lodge a place in my head and heart.” ―Blogging for YA

“What I liked best was how Sarah took responsibility for her own recovery. She makes an effort not to be so snarky, she tries to reach out to other people instead of pushing them away, and she really works at being a better person.” ―Confessions of a Bibliovore

“Johnson deftly blends humor and grief in this story… The Theory of Everything keeps readers guessing―and laughing―and crying―to the last page.” ―Cybils

“Johnson delicately unravels the accidental and peculiar death of Jamie while introducing us to a complex and completely hilarious character in Sarah. This snarky and endearing girl ropes you into her heart quickly with her combination of Zoloft-infused wit and wisdom… Johnson successfully illustrates the struggles of a teen dealing with depression while still battling the harsh criticism of her peers. The characters in Johnson’s novel are rich with small town flavor and it is easy to see why she revisited the same setting in her second novel.” ―The Pirate Tree

“It’s a powerful story with a snarky main character that will leave you in stitches and tears.” ―Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

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Best Children’s Books of the Year ―Bank Street College of Education, 2013

CCBC Choices (Fiction for Young Adults) ―Cooperative Children’s Book Center, 2013

Cybil Award (Finalist, Young Adult Fiction) ―Cybils, 2012

Society of School Librarians International Book Awards (Honor Book, Language Arts Grades 7-12) ―Society of School Librarians International, 2013

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Core Collections Star Title, A (Middle and Junior High, Senior High) ―EBSCO Publishing, 2013

Kansas State Reading Circle Recommended Reading List (Starred, Senior High) ―Kansas National Education Association, 2013

North Carolina Author Awards (Nominee, AAUW Award for Juvenile Literature) –North Carolina Literary & Historical Association, 2013

Joan F. Kaywell Award (Finalist) ―Florida Council of Teachers of English, 2014

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Meet the Author

J.J. Johnson graduated from Binghamton University and worked an internship coordinator for programs such as The Learning Web and Youth Advocacy. She earned a Master of Education from Harvard University, with a concentration in Adolescent Risk and Prevention. Johnson lives in North Carolina. You can visit her website here.