Title: The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Scheneider
Published: August 27th, 2013 by Katherine Tegen
Source: ARC from BEA
Age group: Young adult
Genre: Contemporary romance
Grade rate: A-
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’m not going to lie and tell you that this is a cute romance with a happy ending. If you want that type of story, this is not for you. In contrast, The Beginning of Everything is a bittersweet story about tragedy, how to rise above it, friendship and love.
It has been difficult for me to seat down and write this review because I have ambivalent feelings about the book. On one end I loved Ezra’s voice. He is a bit lost at the beginning of the story. He goes through a terrible tragedy and he feels abandoned by his group of popular friends. He needs to learn how to adjust and come to terms with his new physical limits and how to act around his former friends and ex-girlfriend. I think he makes some terrible decisions, both in the past and during the story; pretending to be someone else and adapting your personality just to fit is never sustainable. True friends love you and accept you for who you are.
The overall characterization is done rather well. Cassidy is very flighty and almost manic in her behavior. She does help Ezra a lot in his road of self-discovery, but at the same time she was cagey, secretive, and distrustful, which is no way to behave with friends or in a relationship. Of course, there is also the fact that she hurt Ezra rather badly. My favorite character (after Ezra) is Toby; his childhood friend. He is a true friend and is there when Ezra needs him the most; he forgives him for his prior abandonment and refuses to fade into the background when things go bad between Ezra and Cassidy.
On the other hand I didn’t particularly like the ending. Yes, I know that The Beginning of Everything is about Ezra and his evolution and the beginning of his life AFTER. I’m not so naïve that I expect a happily ever after in every young adult book that I read, but it felt incomplete and too open for me.
Scheneider’s writing style reminds me a lot of Sara Dessen’s; what is to say that it’s beautiful. They are both full of self-discovery, introspection and unadulterated beauty. The plot had plenty of conflict and a few unexpected turns. Overall, I liked The Beginning of Everything
P.S. – I love all the Harry Potter references!
Some quotes for you:
“And that was when I saw what Cassidy had done to herself: the gold and red ribbing on her sweater-vest, the matching stripes on her tie, the gray uniform skirt, and the navy blazer draped over her arm...
"Is that a Gryffindor tie?" I asked.
"And an official Harry Potter Merchandise sweater-vest," she confirmed smugly.”
“There's a word for it," she told me, "in French, for when you have a lingering impression of something having passed by. Sillage. I always think of it when a firework explodes and lights up the smoke from the ones before it."
"That's a terrible word," I teased. "It's like an excuse for holding onto the past."
"Well, I think it's beautiful. A word for remembering small moments destined to be lost.”
“She tasted like buried treasure and swing sets and coffee. She tasted the way fireworks felt, like something you could get close to but never really have just for yourself.”
About the cover: To be honest this cover is vaguely relevant to the story but I don’t really like it.
**About the UK cover and title: (see the cover below) I’m not sure I like this cover either, but the title makes more sense to me that the US title.