The Beginner's Guide to Living

Lia Hills

Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

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 would live or die for it. But is he willing to risk losing Taryn—losing everything--to seek the answers he craves?


Read an Excerpt

RIPShe looks good for a corpse. Except she never wore green eye shadow, was never this still. Her rib cage has been cracked open—you can’t see anything, it’s all been cleaned up, but I can imagine them beneath her dress, the tracks of stitches that will never heal. Some doctor thrust his hand inside her chest, reached in and touched her heart. It must affect your view of love. It didn’t work, of course—her heart refused to obey his hands. Bit senseless, my dad reckoned, breaking her open when there was no longer a chance. But it’s worth it, isn’t


Praise for The Beginner's Guide to Living

 “…Acutely insightful…the mosaic of imagery and musings in [Will’s] poetic, staccato narration offers thought-provoking ideas about grief and the universal drive to find a purpose. Although this novel begins with a death, it is a celebration of life, companionship, and love.” —Publishers Weekly, STARRED review

 “Hills’s rich imagery and masterful storytelling come together to create a tale that is both poetic and compelling. . . A well-crafted story from a new voice.” —Kirkus Reviews, STARRED review

“Set in Melbourne, Australia, Hills’ debut explores grief, first love, and first sex with poetic frankness that although occasionally mannered is also refreshing, whether Will is feeling suffocated by well-meaning neighbors or awestruck and alive as he imagines a map of the universe in Taryn’s freckled face.” —Booklist

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Lia Hills

  • LIA HILLS is the author of the award-winning adult poetry collection, the possibility of flight, and the translator of Tom is Dead by Marie Darrieussecq. She lives in Melbourne, Australia. This is her first novel.



Available Formats and Book Details

The Beginner's Guide to Living

Lia Hills