I received this book for free from the Publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider
Published by Harper Collins on 2013-08-27
Genres: Contemporary, Friendship, Love & Romance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Source: the Publisher via Edelweiss
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Golden boy Ezra Faulkner believes everyone has a tragedy waiting for them—a single encounter after which everything that really matters will happen. His particular tragedy waited until he was primed to lose it all: in one spectacular night, a reckless driver shatters Ezra’s knee, his athletic career, and his social life.
No longer a front-runner for Homecoming King, Ezra finds himself at the table of misfits, where he encounters new girl Cassidy Thorpe. Cassidy is unlike anyone Ezra’s ever met, achingly effortless, fiercely intelligent, and determined to bring Ezra along on her endless adventures.
But as Ezra dives into his new studies, new friendships, and new love, he learns that some people, like books, are easy to misread. And now he must consider: if one’s singular tragedy has already hit and everything after it has mattered quite a bit, what happens when more misfortune strikes?
Robyn Schneider’s The Beginning of Everything is a lyrical, witty, and heart-wrenching novel about how difficult it is to play the part that people expect, and how new beginnings can stem from abrupt and tragic endings.
I flew through this book. Not only because the beginning chapters of this book were captivating and very original but also because I needed to know what was going to happen with Ezra. Was he going to be okay? Who was Cassidy? What was her story? How would end-of-the-book-Ezra be different from beginning-of-the-book-Ezra? I just needed to know. And it was definitely worth it.
In The Beginning of Everything we meet Ezra, our MC. He tells us about his childhood friend and his theory that everyone’s life revolves around their one major tragedy. We learn about his friend’s, then we learn about his own. We are told how he grew up to be one of the most popular guys in school. We also learn that he maybe wasn’t entirely happy with his life. When the story reaches present time, Ezra’s senior year is just starting and he’s coming back as a different person than when he left it at the end of junior year. And when his senior year ends, he’ll be even more different.
This book felt like a mash-up of a John Green book and Something Like Normal by Trish Doller. The characters are smart and also a little nerdy. The dialogue was brilliant and funny. And the internal monologue of the MC was very beautiful and cognizant but also masculine. And I always love a male POV that feels authentic. Ezra felt very natural and real, even in his softer moments. You need a good cry, Ezra? you go right ahead. You deserve it. We’ll all still love you when you’re done.
A few other things I loved about this book are the characters, the writing, and the original, unpredictable plot. I loved so many of the characters in this book and all for different reasons. Toby was the best best friend who had completely accepted himself and his place in their very cliquey high school. Phoebe was the shy girl who learned to stand up for herself. Luke was the nerdy bad guy. Charlotte was the shallow ex who hadn’t learned anything from her past. Cassidy was the mysterious new girl who did whatever she wanted, always said the right things, but was hiding a big secret. Cooper was the lovable and loyal poodle. Even Ezra’s parents and the school jocks were unique and memorable and played their parts well, whether we were suppose to like them or not. I loved them all for their abilities to make us feel and think and wonder (even if they were a bit stereotypical).
The writing in this book and the uniqueness of the story were also what made me fall in love with it. Even when I thought I knew what was going to happen, something else came in and totally took me by surprise. The secret and the ending were not what I was expected. It was perfect and beautiful and meaningful but the events leading up to it were definitely not what I had predicted. (With the exception of a big conflict and reveal regarding Cassidy.) I just loved the idea that we do choose which paths we take and are in charge of the choices we make. The world may be full of chaos that we cannot control (people moving in and out of our lives, tragic events, etc.) but we still decide who we are and how we react to those things. We aren’t passive in our own lives.
Overall, I was very moved by the journey that Ezra takes in The Beginning of Everything. (I wish they had kept the original title!) Combine that with funny dialogue, fantastic secondary characters, and a very original beginning, this book is definitely one I’ll be recommending! If you like John Green-type books, YA character-driven contemporaries, male POVs, or unique coming-of-age stories, I think you’ll like this one.