The Big Bang Theory, Pandas, and Everything

The science of Physics baffles me. According to Sheldon Cooper, television’s quintessential Thursday night physicist, “the term ‘physics’ comes from the Greek ‘physika’…meaning life. It started on a warm summer night in Greece…” In fact, The Big Bang Theory has made Physics and comedy almost synonymous for a lot of people, including me. On a good day, I get the basics, but I didn’t take it in high school, opted for chemistry in college only because I had to choose a science, and could not recite the Table of Elements to save my life. Other things excite me more.
So, what does this have to do with pandas? In this particular post, it has everything to do with pandas. Specifically marching pandas, dancing pandas and a shaman panda that goes by the name of Walt. Last week I stepped out of my reading comfort zone on the recommendation of a very good friend and opened up a new YA (young adult or teen) novel entitled The Theory of Everything, written by Kari Luna. I do love recommendations that pan out– that give me nuggets of gold and a chance to laugh, get a little teary-eyed and learn something new while I enjoy a well-written story.
Sophie Sophia is different from your average teenager. She loves ‘80’s music, makes her own unique fashions, and doesn’t fit in with any crowd. She’s her own person, with a secret she doesn’t care to share. Her father, a well-known physicist, eccentric and fun, has periodically vanished. He always comes back with stories and plans. Until one day he doesn’t. Oh and he sees things other people don’t see. One day, Sophie discovers she shares this trait. And it frightens her because it frightened her mom, who doesn’t want to talk about her father or his abilities. He’s gone. Sophie should just enjoy being a teenager. It doesn’t help that her mom keeps moving her around the country, finally ending up in Illinois. So, Sophie keeps her secret until one day in Physics class she makes an unexpected friend named Finn and soon after sees a band of marching pandas led by a panda who tells her he is her shaman, sent to guide her. His name is Walt and he keeps telling her about her ‘path’. This path includes those unexpected an inconvenient ‘events’ by which Sophie is being blindsided. Walt calls them ‘traveling’. He also seems to know all about her father and his special ability. So, after a bit more ‘traveling’, and her friend Finn’s theory that the string theory of physics can help her understand why she has these things happen to her, Sophie decides to find her father and go back to New York where everything unraveled in the first place.
As someone who has watched vampires and paranormal rule on the shelves of the Teen Fiction section of my Barnes & Noble for a long time, I think this story is a refreshing change. The character is a normal teen who sees herself as different…don’t we all, no matter what our ages? She has a secret that she doesn’t care to share. Until…one day she meets a friend named Finn who not only believes her but believes in her…enough so that she can actually meet another boy who wants to go out with her…oh yes, there’s a bit of romance here. And it works.
You don’t have to be a teenager to enjoy this story. After all, we were all teens once, no matter how wonderful or difficult those years were. I promise you’ll get caught up in Sophie’s quest. So, read The Theory of Everything. And then give it to or buy it for a friend, a teen you know, or the local library. Because, physics can explain everything.

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