I received this book for free from HarperCollins 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 Katherine Tegen on August 27th 2013
Genres: Contemporary, YA
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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?
I was waiting in line and happened to have this book with me, and after only 10 minutes I was already hooked. The first few pages recount a horrifying situation that is bound to shock anyone, and already I could put myself in their shoes and feel it changing these boys for life. Then shortly after, we’re brought into the second shock of the book: the accident that changed Ezra’s life.
The Beginning of Everything is narrated by Ezra, a one-time golden boy who’s now feeling out of place with his cane and worthless self image. I loved this boy from the get go. His voice is brilliantly depicted as a teenager who used to have it all – or so he thought. You can not only feel his pain, but you also come to understand how hard it is for him to accept that he’s not who he was anymore. Throughout this book Ezra searches for himself, and finds what he needs to find in the most realistic, though not easiest, of way. The start may be shocking, but it’s a pretty mellow read for the most part. Robyn gives us a real teenage boy with genuine insecurities and flaws. Obviously I’ve never been a teenage boy myself, but I found him to be perfectly portrayed with a convincing – and refreshing – personality.
This is another of those plots that aren’t necessarily about anything in particular; at least nothing cut and dry. We have Ezra who was once the most popular boy in school with tennis championships and prom King crowns in his back pocket, and, of course, the prettiest girlfriend, but after the accident his life takes a 180. All in all, this book is about ever changing life; or in Ezra’s case, a life changed by tragic force. But, is it really the worst thing that could have happened? We see him question who he really is, if he really belongs anywhere at all. The book also has friendship as a major topic; he finds out who his true friends are. It’s bizarre how sometimes it takes a tragedy to change people for the better; to make them see what they took for granted.
Romance is another large aspect of this novel, which is where Cassidy comes in. I adored this girl just as much. I found she brought a lot of energy to the book. She’s intelligent and confident, but there’s also something underneath her bright surface that is weighing her down. In a way, this made her perfect for Ezra’s love interest. They bonded with this inseparable connection that you can sense through the pages, born from shared brokenness – even though they’re good at hiding it. The mystery behind Cassidy’s past becomes fairly predictable, however – at least I thought so – especially after her sudden change of heart. It was made obvious by the immediacy following a certain conversation if you pay attention. I knew then exactly what had happened, though not right away who exactly it involved. As for the ending, I think it’s one that readers will easily love or hate. I fall more on the love side for how incredibly realistic it is. Life doesn’t end neatly wrapped up with everything we expected and/or wanted, it just goes on. I appreciate realism over anything in these types of books.
Compelling characters, a strong narration, and great writing fill the pages of this book. The Beginning of Everything is sad, funny, hopeful, heartbreaking; it’s about dealing with what life throws at you. Lemonade, anyone?
4 Hot Espressos