The Beginning of Everything
By Robyn Schneider
Expected Publication August 27, 2013
Katherine Tegen Books (imprint of HarperCollins Publishers)
Genre: YA realistic fiction
Four and a half stars
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?
The Beginning of Everything is a coming of age story that centers around seventeen year old Ezra Faulkner who has seen his fair share of tragedies; often letting them control him and dictate his future. Newly “crippled” by a devastating car accident that led his “friends” to abandoning him, replacing him as SGA president and captain of the football team. In short, when he started his senior year, he didn’t know why to sit or who he was on the first day. None of his tennis friends, or people he thought were important, visited him in the hospital. Not only did his leg get damaged, not only did he lose the ability to play sports, he lost a part of himself he couldn’t recognize or care to fix.
As he looked around the cafeteria, he needed to make a choice. So he sat down at the table where his best friend from childhood sat. Tobie suffered a childhood tragedy, too. When Ezra and he celebrated Tobie’s birthday at Disneyland, a tourist sat up in the ride and severed his head which landed in Tobie’s lap for the duration of the ride, changing the dynamic of their friendship. Now, after Ezra faces his own, it is Tobie and his group of misfit friends that allow Ezra a chance to do a do-over. No strings attached, expected, or anything.
Enter new girl Cassidy Thorpe who needed a change, just like Ezra. And, as new girls come, apparently, secrets are tied around her. But, what is her secret? As Ezra finds himself, with the help of Cassidy, his ever changing love, Ezra discovers the truth behind Cassidy’s sad eyes and guarded past.
Although parts of this novel read as a first love book, what is different about this novel is the love story isn’t prominent or perfect in any sense. Rainbow Rowell’s novel Eleanor and Parkis slightly similar to this novel (and almost as good of a read) where the love is imperfect with a hidden background the girl is trying to keep to herself, what Schneider does, successfully in my opinion, show the imperfections of life that doesn’t need to change a person, not really anyway. She writes about the angst, with many good indie band plugs I can say, and gracefully this coming of age story becomes beautiful despite of the tragedies and hurt. That, we all have a past and our problems to work out, but in the end they manage to sort themselves out with a little push. They do not define us as much as we think, or give them credit for. This novel isn’t really about discovering the truth behind the accident, or the way Ezra copes, it is about realizing the beginnings turn into middles, but not ends; not right away. I have always had a problem with thinking about the next. What happens next with the characters? Surely it is not a fictional death? That after that last period is typed their lives stop. Yes, they are not really real, but yet they are. These characters can easily be you or me. An us and a them. High School love happens. So does the aftermath of that love.
Schneider gives me a satisfying hope. And not a feeling of being left alone afterward. This is definitely a book I would reread. There are quotes that make me think; think about myself and how I react and live. One of my favorites is “The world tends toward chaos, you know,” It does, the world really does. And as much as Cassidy continues to say how she is helping it along, we all do. With the choices we make. And, it isn’t a bad thing. It just is. This is one of the first time I truly realized and accepted that. When we say our lives have been chaotic, what does that really mean? It just means, I am starting to feel, that each of our decisions, choices, and everything in between affects the world, and it isn’t a bad thing. It is the right thing. We need to keep moving along without second guessing ourselves or questioning our existence. OUr lives can be busy, but chaotic? Maybe that is just a word used too frequently. Maybe busy and chaotic aren’t really the same.
I love when YA books offer me this kind of substance and thought provoking sentences. Some YA books are just fluff, good fluff but fluff. Even the semi-realistic ones. There is love interests in all these novels, but the real love interest and story line in this story isn’t truly between Ezra and Cassidy, it is between Ezra and Ezra. Learning to love yourself despite the flaws you think you have. I would add more quotes, but as they are towards the end I will keep them to myself for a bit.
I hope you give this book a chance when it comes out next month. I am happy I got my advance copy when I attended the Book Expo of America. One of the best finds so far.