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The Beginner's Guide to Living

3.59  ·  Rating Details ·  373 Ratings  ·  65 Reviews
Seven days after his mother dies in a sudden, senseless accident, seventeen-year-old Will embarks on a search for meaning that leads him to the great philosophers--Plato, Seneca, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche--and to Taryn, the beautiful girl he meets at his mother's wake. Will is desperate to find, however he can, something authentic, something ultimate, something so true he wou ...more
Hardcover, 232 pages
Published October 12th 2010 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (first published May 22nd 2006)
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Tye Cattanach
Sep 04, 2010 Tye Cattanach rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“God, Mum, where are you? Are you disappointed I’m crap at all this? You never told me what to do when you died, but you should’ve, because it’s the only thing we can be sure of. Death gets us all in the end.” (Page 5 The Beginners Guide To Living.)

There is a saying in Philosophy about ‘active laziness’. It alludes to those who are perpetually busy. Life is always hectic, there are always a million things to do and they all need to be done now. People who live with the condition of active lazine
Apr 04, 2009 Adele rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The divine Simmone Howell mentioned that she was reading this little gem on her blog a few weeks back. I decided then that I needed to get my hands on it then.

Reading this book was like slipping into a tub full of warm words. They slip over you, sink in, resonate. Worm their way into your consciousness. It's not surprise that Hills is a poet because every line in this book was beautiful. Reading about this boy's exploration into his mother life and death, what the purpose of life truly is and th
Nov 03, 2011 Kelly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It took me a long time to get into this and buy into Will, but when I did, I really, really liked this story. It's about grief and death, but it's about hope and living, too. There's love and philosophy, and as much as it could come off as a kid being too smart for himself, it's not at all. It's Will pushing grief away, rather than dealing with it.

Hills has a fantastic and poetic writing style, and this book mixes it up with flashbacks and images that make up Will and his mother's story lines.
Mar 29, 2011 Jacki rated it it was ok
Shelves: teen-fiction
Summary: Following his mother's tragic death by drunk driver, young Will must deal with his (metaphorically) lost father, angry elder brother, and his own questions and angst about the meaning of life and death. Initially he looks for answers in a new and passionate relationship with free-spirited Taryn, but he learns grief can't be washed away with love or sex.

Verdict: An interesting portrait of grief, punctuated by photographs meant to have been taken by Will with his mother's camera.

Yay!: A s
Mar 23, 2011 Outis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
Sehr dicht geschrieben und man bekommt extrem viel, über das man eine Weile nachzudenken hat. Dazu kommt eine Auswahl von Philosophen. Mir hat es sehr gut gefallen und ich weiß mindestens drei Leute, an die ich das Buch weiterverschenken werde. Allerdings ist es mir nach wie vor ein Rätsel, warum die Leute in der Buchhandlung dieses Buch unter "Fantasy" einsortiert hatten. Es ist zwar eher auf ein jugendlicher(es) Publikum ausgerichtet, hat aber mit Fantasy so überhaupt gar nichts zu tun.
Feb 07, 2011 Robin rated it really liked it
This is one of the more stirring YA novels I've read. In it, 17-year-old Will aches to come to terms with his mother's death, the meaning of life, and the vulnerability experienced through love. Beautifully written, I agree with others who have commented that it shows this novel was written by an author with a background in poetry.
Trish Doller
Sep 05, 2010 Trish Doller rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
God, I wish I had written this book. *sigh*
Feb 26, 2017 Denise rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A book about love & death, grief and various philosophers, including a four year old named Essie
Jan 06, 2017 Just rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Will, 17 years, struggles to understand the meaning of life and death following the unexpected death of his mum. Well written story about discovering who you are when an important person in your life dies.
Dec 11, 2012 Asaviel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Diese Geschichte setzt genau zu dem Zeitpunkt ein, zu dem Wills Mutter stirbt. Der Leser ist nicht dabei, denn er folgt ausschließlich Will, denn es wird immer aus seiner Perspektive erzählt. So wird eben auch aus seiner Sicht erzählt, dass er nichts gespürt hat, als seine Mutter plötzlich aus dem Leben gerissen wurde.
Natürlich steht nun die Frage offen: Wie soll ein Jugendlicher in diesem Moment weiterleben. Der Verlust schmerzt so sehr, dass Will ihn körperlich spürt. Aus dieser Grundkonstella
Kat Alexander
Apr 06, 2011 Kat Alexander rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed, read-2011
Will never called his mom "mother" until after she died. But three days later, it's "my mother" this and "my mother" that. Maybe it's less painful than calling her "Mom". Now that she's dead and all.

Now that she's dead and all, Will is painfully confronted with the fact of her--and his own--mortality. What's it mean to die? To live? Will finds new love just days after, and throws himself into the search for answers. In philosophy, Western and Eastern, in love, in other people. In the woods outsi
Angela C
The Beginner’s Guide to Living is a book that you may not appreciate until you finish reading it and have a chance to sit back and reflect. While I was in the process of reading, I wasn’t impressed. There are a few passages that just seem weird, as if there is no real purpose for their inclusion. There’s a moment in the book, for example, when Will is taking a bath and farts in the tub. What the heck is that about? Why did the author feel the need to mention it? Again, super weird.

Luckily, Hills
Paperback Princess
Jul 21, 2011 Paperback Princess rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, library
Originally published at Paperback Princess to view in it's entirety pls click here.

As some of my readers may have noticed, I normally create my own synopsis for my reviews. However, I'm struggling to keep up with reviewing the books I've read as it takes me forever to write my own synopsis. I've seen many reviewers using the Publisher's synopsis so I'm going to take this route and see how it goes. Let me know which you all think is better. I wanted to make special mention once again to Lisa from
“One should plan for spiritual enlightenment. At least bring a flashlight.”

3/5 Stars

(German review below)

Will's mum just died. And no one has ever bothered to tell him how to deal with all of this.
So he tries to get some answers on his own - and he falls in love, on his mum's funeral.
This surely isn't how to deal with someone's death, or is it?

The thing about this book is that the main character does not know what he wants - and the story does not this as well. It's an up and down without
John Clark
Aug 12, 2013 John Clark rated it really liked it
Will's Mom was killed by a drunk driver as she was getting out of her car for a doctor's appointment. Everyone in the family is devastated. His father deals with the grieving process by immersing himself in work, neglecting meals, laundry and his sons. Older brother Adam who returned from the far east where he was working, deals with it by being angry and disappearing whenever the situation might trigger feelings he can't control. Will deals with his sense of loss by asking questions and seeking ...more
Emily Hainsworth
Thank you to Tye Cattanach for sending this my way!!

Having written a book about a boy who deals a lot with grief myself, I was really intrigued (and okay a little intimidated) to see how Lia Hills approached the subject…and I couldn’t have been more engrossed by the story. I finished this book in two sittings (FAST for me, ok). Maybe I am a sucker for ~boys in pain~, but I found myself directly inside Will’s head (and sometimes his pants), trying to piece together some meaning out of his mother’
Nov 27, 2010 Lotte rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010, favoriten
Wills Mutter stirbt nach einem tragischen Verkehrsunfall.
Auf der Beerdigung ringt er um Fassung und ist geschockt, dass er es fertig bringt, sich in so einer Situation zu verlieben.
Er ist vollkommen überfordert mit seinem Schicksal und sucht nach Halt im Leben und der Wahrheit über Leben und Tod. Während sein Vater und sein Bruder die Trauer auf ihre ganz eigene Art verarbeiten, stürzt sich Will in seine Beziehung zu Taryn. Sein Alltag gerät auf der Suche nach dem Sinn seiner Existenz mächtig in
The beginners guide to living really isn't a guide let alone one for beginners. This book basically shows you all the things you shouldn't do such as several drugs to escape your problems, befriend strangers and take drugs they give you, have sex with a girl you only just met and become a graffiti artist by way of cheap spray paint. Will, our main character has lots of unresolved personal issues that resurface at the moment his mothers death seems to sink in. He meets this girl named taryn at hi ...more
Feb 06, 2011 Brittany rated it it was amazing
Poweful stuff. I loved how the philosophy aspect of it carried throught the wzhole thing even when it was divided into parts. Though Lia said that if Will were to write a book the 2 parts would be about death and love respectively, if there were 4 parts, it would be different. Personally, Part 1 was about death. 2 about love. 3 about drugs. And 4 about Will finding himself\resolution. Overall, really good. It was interesting how people he met ha suffered a death or other tragedy. Cherry's charac ...more
Diane Ferbrache
When Will’s mother is killed by a drunk driver, he finds himself angry and lost and questioning the meaning of life. His father has disappeared into work and alcohol. His brother has returned home to live, but is only present in body and frequent absences make that even rare. Will seeks answers in books of philosophical writings, meditation, sex, and drugs, and he falls in love for the first time. He soon discovers that none of that is very satisfying or comforting.
This is a wonderfully writte
will's mother has just been killed by a drunk driver, and life no longer makes any sense. he, his brother adam, and their father are all grieving in different ways. will embarks on a personal search for meaning by reading philosophy, falling in love, and experimenting with drugs, nature, vandalism, and religion. he develops the film left in his mother's camera to see the last photos she took. but there don't seem to be any answers.

i wanted to love this book, but i just liked it. it had so many w
Katie Joiner
Oct 12, 2011 Katie Joiner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a cool book! At the library, I usually pick out a book to balance the heavy-duty Toni Morrison/Amy Bloom/Edgar Allan Poe book I'm reading. This week, "Beginners Guide" was that book. It was sad, but not in a bawl-your-eyes-out kind of way. Will's dynamic, intresting, and realistic charecter makes the book worthwhile. A plot twist in the end makes you even more attached to Will.
Taryn is an awesome charecter. In a few books that I've read, the After Death girlfriend can be irritating and mea
This book was nominated in the NZ Post Children's Book awards, but it is set in Australia. It's about a 17 year old boy whose mom dies unexpectedly and the first few month of he and his dad and brother coping with her death. I wanted to read it because my mom died when I was 15 and I was surrounded my grieving males that were difficult to understand. I think this book gives reasonably good insight into what the experience of losing a parent in your teen years feels like. I related to and enjoyed ...more
Holly Cagney
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 19, 2013 Janaya rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This was a really amazing book. I love books where readers are given the utmost connection to the main characters, mentally. It was nice experiencing Will's mourning with him and seeing him sprout into understanding. The philosophical references were the icing on the cake as well; I learned about so mant different philosophers and their lives. The only reason I gave it a four was because I felt his relationship with Taryn was too quick and unrealistic in the sexual and relationship terms. It nev ...more
So, I really don't like philosophy, and I suppose the way to get me to read a book about it is to disguise the philosophical bits inside a angsty teen novel where the mother dies. Like mashing up a cat's medication and putting it in tuna fish.

Except, even without all the philosophy, it wasn't that great of a novel. Really not at a tuna fish level. There's one of those excessively quirky free spirit girlfriends who says wise things and introduces him to sex and drugs. AND there's philosophy.

Mar 13, 2012 Bmankiewicz rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 21, 2011 Gabbicalabrese rated it did not like it
Shelves: 9th-grade
It is very difficult for me to not like a book. This book achieved that. Perhaps it is because I'm not spiritually intuned or something, but I just could not see the point in this book. There was no riveting climax as I kept expecting there to be. There was no anything. The writing style wasn't good, and neither was the purpose. I guess I kept anticipating something that didn't exist. I pushed on to the end because I was hoping it would grow more interesting. It didn't.

The one thing I may have p
Feb 09, 2010 Strawberry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adults
Eigentlich habe ich dieses Buch gestern Abend nur angefangen, weil ich Langeweile hatte. Und dann habe ich es in einem Rutsch durchgelesen (ok, es ist ja auch nicht so dick).
Die Mutter des 17-jährigen Will stirbt bei einem Autounfall. Auf der Trauerfeier verliebt sich Will dann zum ersten Mal so richtig und fühlt sich gleichzeitig schuldig seiner Mutter gegenüber. Er beginnt in einem Notizheft Fragen über den Tod und das Leben festzuhalten und sucht in den Werken verschiedener Philosophen nach A
Emily W
When I first started this book, I was immediately gripped by its language. It captured the raw, honest pain and emptiness of losing a loved one, yet it was also poetic. My initial thought was "this is going to be a five-star book!"
However, it did not continue the way it started. Will went from being an intensely real narrative voice and character to being annoying and stupid.
It did improve around the end, and I still think it was a good read; my only wish is that it continued the way that it st
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Lia Hills is a poet, novelist and translator. Her work has been published, translated and performed in countries as varied as Japan, Switzerland and the US.

Lia’s latest novel, The Crying Place, is due for release with Allen and Unwin in March 2017. Recipient of a Creative Victoria grant in 2012 for her work on the novel, Lia has travelled regularly to the centre of Australia to research and write
More about Lia Hills...

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“Run naked through your fears.” 5 likes
“One should plan for spiritual enlightenment. At least bring a flashlight.” 4 likes
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