The Beginning of Everything
author : robyn schneider
pages : [hardcover] 335
memorable quote : And I realized that there’s a big difference between deciding to leave and knowing where to go.
favorite characters : ezra & toby
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 started reading this book because I had the privilege of meeting Robyn Schneider while she was on the Story Crush tour. I have to say that this book is as remarkably quirky and maybe a little awkward, reminiscent of the author in all of the best ways. Contemporary young adult literature isn’t something that I always reach for on the shelves; the storytelling nearly always needs to rely on the characters and their development. I think that this is something that The Beginning of Everything did nicely. At some points the characters could become so eccentric the novel took on an aura of absurdity, though in the end it definitely recovered from this and turned into a book that I’ll definitely need to read again.
Ezra Faulker. Not exactly a normal name for a guy who isn’t very normal. He experiences his personal tragedy in the beginning of the book (and, being a tennis player myself, some of what he experienced afterward pummeled my emotions). He basically realizes that his life can never return to what it had been before his tragedy but it’s the only way he’s known of living so he can’t even begin to fathom how things can still work out alright for him.
Enter his new group at school. I definitely think a lot more could have been done with this supporting cast of diverse characters. I wanted to see more conflict and things that would make me incredibly interested and attached to these characters. Usually this group was only pulled in for little bits of amusement, quirky details, or to stir up a little drama that tended to peter out once that conflict was no longer necessary to the plot. This was one of the stronger objections I had to some part of this novel.
Otherwise, it really entertained me and once I got going it only took me two days to read through. At that point I was so overwhelmed by what I’d read that I needed to sit on it for a little while before I could write this review. I couldn’t help but feel proud of Ezra at the conclusion of the book . . which made me realize how emotionally attached I’d gotten to him. The other characters, even Cassidy, were good to me but not great. I’m glad that the focus of the novel really had the chance to shine.
I’d definitely recommend this book if you need a good contemporary read. It might take a little while to get into but it’ll leave you satisfied at the end.