Title: The Beginning of Everything
by Robyn Schneider
Publishing Info: August 27, 2013 by HarperCollins
Source: BEA 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 1, 2013
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 loved THE BEGINNING OF EVERYTHING. I’m just gonna put that out there right off the bat. This was such the book for me. It was witty, smart, lyrical, and heartbreaking. On top of it all, you know I’ve been loving books with a male POV lately, and that actually caught me by surprise, but in a good way!
THE BEGINNING OF EVERYTHING was originally titled Severed Heads, Broken Hearts. Confused? Allow me to explain. The story starts off with our main character Ezra. He’s still recovering from a major knee-injury that he received in a car crash and his life truly changes from that point on. No longer able to be the golden boy tennis star that he once was, Ezra finds that the loss of his golden boy status immediately affects his friendships as well — an unexpected change in his life — and he ends up reconnecting with his once close, now ostracized friend Toby. So why Severed Heads, Broken Hearts? (Which is still the UK title, by the way.) Toby became ostracized only after he coincidentally caught the severed head of a Japanese tourist after he stood up on Thunder Mountain in Disneyland. Ew, yes. But there you have it. Already a slightly dark side to the book!
Okay, now on with the review…
I really loved everything about this book. THE BEGINNING OF EVERYTHING is to YA novels as Garden State is to movies. It was emotional, sometimes darker on the humor side, witty, sarcastic, had an unfortunate guy and a quirky girl with some secrets in her past. (Hopefully you liked Garden State because I LOVED TBOE). Sure, at times it may have been a bit over the top with some of the witticisms or perfectly interwoven situations but hey. It’s a book. You get to do that kind of stuff and make your story fit perfectly and I was so happy it did because that made all the difference in the ending. That really came together, we find out those skeletons from Cassidy’s closet, and I’m basically falling out of my chair in amazement.
Robyn Schneider created some truly remarkable characters for the reader to fall in love with. Right away, I was drawn to Ezra. Not in a swoony way, actually, but in a sense that his story was complicated and the right choices weren’t always obvious and I was really interested to see what paths he was going to choose to take.
I loved Toby. Too often the best friend character exists for there to be a best friend character, but Toby was special. He stole the show a little bit — yes, he was a bit more open and eccentric about being geektastic than Ezra was — but I think it was the history between Toby and Ezra that really added another layer to the story. I really appreciated how they had once been really close, drifted apart, and came back together again. I think it showed a lot about Toby’s character from his immediate willingness to befriend Ezra again, especially when he needed someone solid in his life.
Cassidy was quite a puzzling character and she fascinated me. I wasn’t sure if half of what she was saying was fallacy or true or some gray area in between and like Ezra, I spent the entire book trying to figure her out. Obviously there’s something she’s not sharing with us and Robyn Schneider did a great job of keeping my curiosity going. Her unpredictability was intriguing to me as well and I loved that the randomness of her character allowed the story to take curious and unexpected turns.
Then there’s this whole other aspect of the book that I fell in love with… THE MUSIC. ALL OF THE MUSIC. I died over and over again because I was like, “This book just GETS ME!!!” Vampire Weekend. Arcade Fire. THE KOOKS. Robyn Schneider, you put the freaking Kooks in this book and referenced “Seaside”!!!!! I was IN that moment with Ezra listening to “Seaside”, volume turned down low, waiting for his world to change. I am absolutely making a playlist for this book so yeah. Keep your eyes peeled for that!
I finished THE BEGINNING OF EVERYTHING in one sitting. I couldn’t and wouldn’t stop because I enjoyed this book thoroughly from cover to cover. I honestly loved everything about it: the humor, the music, the characters, the plot, the twists, the romance, and even the male POV. There was so much that I wasn’t expecting from THE BEGINNING OF EVERYTHING but they were definitely all pleasant surprises! It’s absolutely one of my favorite contemporaries of this year and Robyn, I apologize for live Instagram and tweeting you while I was reading… but thank you for this wonderful read!
Ezra Faulkner // Character Obsessions: Tennis, friendships, restarting his life after the accident.
I really liked Ezra. For a female author (or even just in general), his voice was so authentic and I really enjoyed his personality. Even if he was written by a male author, that’s still one of the most enjoyable YA male POVs I’ve read (sorry, but nothing beats Adam Wilde). I was really interested in his story, his friendships, and his budding relationship with Cassidy. His humor and intelligence really added so much to his personality as well!
Cassidy Thorpe // Character Obsessions: Debate, staying unique, keeping her secrets, friends.
Cassidy was such an interesting character. Throughout the whole book, I knew there was something she wasn’t revealing, something that was hidden just beneath the surface for the reader to uncover, and I was trying to figure it out the whole time. She was zany but not in a silly way. I loved how she didn’t care what anyone thought of her and she genuinely did what she wanted… with maybe the exception of her interactions with Ezra. I loved her history (once we find out what it is) because though I tried to guess, I was still surprised. And oh my gosh, THE HARRY POTTER REFERENCES. I about died. That was hilarious and made me love her even more.
Toby // Character Obsessions: Debate, staying true to himself, honesty, friendship.
Toby was hands down my favorite character. He wasn’t just a friend character for the sake of a friend. He had SO much depth to his character from his connection to Ezra, his personal history, his current struggles in friendships/relationships, and his sense of humor. He brought the whole book together and also sort of made the perfect bridge for the gap between Ezra and Cassidy. He was such a fantastic character in this book and I absolutely loved all of his involvement in the plot.
Kept Me Hooked On: More and more and more male POVs! Okay, so I’m a little obsessed lately, but I am loving the male POVs in YA lately. Is it bad to say that I’m doubly impressed with male POVs from female authors that feel so authentic? I think it really takes something special to find that male voice and keep it believable and make me forget that it’s even coming from the mind of a female author. To get that deep to get into the mind of a male character — Okay, anyway. I absolutely loved it!
Left Me Wanting More: Robyn Schneider. I really loved her writing, the plot, the characters — the characters!!! I can’t wait to read more books from Robyn. She totally wowed me with THE BEGINNING OF EVERYTHING.
I really loved so, so, so many things about THE BEGINNING OF EVERYTHING. I really connected with on so many levels and it was such a wonderful book for me to read to pull me out of my mini-reading slump. I will definitely suggest this book to many, many people.