Originally posted on Wednesday, 22 January 2014 at ROPL.org.
By Kari Luna
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Review by Sarah Nagelbush, Adult Librarian
Kari Luna’s young adult novel, The Theory of Everything is full of just that — everything. And I loved every second of it. The story revolves around Sophie Sophia and her search for her missing father, a physicist. Sophie’s father disappears on occasion and when we enter the story, he’s been gone for some time. But that’s not all of Sophie’s problems. Kari Luna’s novel, which starts simply enough, mixes reality and fantasy in a subtle and fantastically fun way.You see, Sophie’s problem isn’t just that she’s obsessed with music from the eighties (especially mixtapes) and has a missing father — Sophie sees things that aren’t there.
What does she see? A talking panda. His name is Walt and he’s her shaman and guide. But these things she sees (not just Walt, but others things too, which Luna artfully describes throughout the novel) are things no one else can see. They’ve caused her problems as she grows and now, at 14, her mother had hoped she’d grow out of them. But she hasn’t and that’s when she meets Walk and Finny. Unlike Walt, Finny’s a human boy, the same age as Sophie (14). And, unlike most of the people in her life Finny likes her (and believes her). And it’s Finny who goes with her on their spontaneous 20 hour train ride to New York City, in search of Sophie’s missing father.
The Theory of Everything may sound cheesy and ridiculous, but it’s none of those things. It’s thoughtful and moving. It’s full of parents and people who care (there are consequences to Finny and Sophie’s road trip, they are just 14 after all). But it’s also full of love and hope. Luna’s writing is fun, light hearted, but serious when it matters. I loved The Theory of Everything because it was a perfect little book of joy — in spite of the heartbreak that is occasionally sprinkled through out it.
It doesn’t matter if you’re 14, 34 or 54 — there’s something for everyone to love in Luna’s novel.