The Beginning Things is a novel of lessons and of steps towards redemption. Twelve-year-old Tot Thompson, mourning the loss of her father and stranded on an island of familial dysfunction, finds a moment of importance in a neighbor's bed. Dan Grad, her recently widowed grandfather, finds a sharp-edged peace inside a bottle of Bells Whiskey. Both have lessons to learn...and strangely enough, important lessons to teach.
Watch out. You can get dangerously attached to the people of Tot Thompson’s world. Dangerous because the last page WILL COME and you shall realize it’s only a book.
— Carolyn Chute, The Beans of Egypt, Maine
The Beginning Things contains three coming of age stories, all of them beautifully told with equal parts toughness and tenderness. Readers will recognize important truths about themselves and their lives as lived through Tot, the pre-teen; Elaine, Tot's single mother, and Dan, Elaine's recently widowed father-in-law. Goodjohn balances each of their stories with dry humor and a strong sense of the importance of both endings and beginnings, as well as the battles and triumphs of the in-betweens. This is a rare book, wound tight as thread around a finger, and as lyrical as everyday things fully realized. I have nothing but praise for its wise and insightful author. Enter the world of The Beginning Things, and you will not want to emerge again until the very last word.
— Morgan Callan Rogers, Red Ruby Heart in a Cold Blue Sea