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The Beginning of Everything

The Beginning of Everything

Written by Robyn Schneider

Narrated by Dan John Miller


The Beginning of Everything

Written by Robyn Schneider

Narrated by Dan John Miller

ratings:
4/5 (57 ratings)
Length:
7 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Aug 27, 2013
ISBN:
9780062254085
Format:
Audiobook

Editor's Note

Humor & heartbreak…

For anyone who loved John Green’s “Paper Towns”, Schneider’s tragedy-filled but humor-driven story about a boy who struggles through the repercussions of a car accident with the help of friends old & new is a must.

Description

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.

Together, Ezra and Cassidy discover flash mobs, buried treasure, secret movie screenings, and a poodle that might just be the reincarnation of Jay Gatsby. 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.

A HarperAudio production.

Publisher:
Released:
Aug 27, 2013
ISBN:
9780062254085
Format:
Audiobook

About the author

Robyn Schneider is the bestselling author of The Beginning of Everything, Extraordinary Means, and Invisible Ghosts, which have earned numerous starred reviews, appeared on many state reading lists, and been published in over a dozen countries. She is a graduate of Columbia University, where she studied creative writing, and the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, where she earned a master of bioethics. She lives in Los Angeles, California, but also on the internet. You can find her at www.robynschneider.com.


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4.0
57 ratings / 24 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (3/5)
    Having read this straight after "Something Like Normal" I found it very bland in comparison. Ezra was an okay protagonist, but I didn't like Cassidy. She was very self-centred and I didn't like the way she treated Ezra on many occasions. This wasn't a bad book, just stereotypical and ordinary, and the ending was a downer!
  • (4/5)
    Perfect! Even if it didn't end the way I wanted.
  • (5/5)
    Ezra was a high school tennis star and probably the most popular kid in school. He had a bright future all mapped out for him: tennis scholarship to the state university, fraternity member and any girl he wanted. It all came to a halt with a car accident that left his leg shattered. Senior year, Ezra is searching to discover what he really wants and where he fits in as he begins to date the mysterious new girl in school. I loved this book! The characters were funny and flawed. You wanted to root for them, even as you began to feel there might not be a perfect ending in store for them. Sure enough, I got snookered and didn't see what was right around the bend. Give this to fans of John Green and they'll love you for it.
  • (5/5)
    The narrator has a nice voice unlike other audiobook narrator
  • (4/5)
    Originally posted at Read. Run. Study.I think this is the first book I have read since beginning this blog that I can’t pin down a rating for. Does it deserve 3 stars, 4 stars, or 5 stars? I don’t know. I kind of loved and hated it all at the same time for reasons that I can’t seem to articulate.Let’s start with the things that I liked. I will admit that I haven’t read a lot of contemporary fiction lately, but part of this book’s charm was the unique story. At its most basic level, this was a tale of self-discovery as Ezra struggled to come to terms with his injury and settle into a new identity. But it wasn’t a straight-forward, predictable story. In fact, one of the things I most appreciated about the book was the twists and turns I didn’t see coming. I liked most of the characters and some of the associated mystery. If I had to choose a favorite character, it probably would have been Toby. I’d really like to have heard more about his story and ideas. Having said that, I liked Ezra well enough as a narrator – his character was well-written and I liked his character development. And, while I didn’t connect to all of Ezra’s character, I do feel like I understood him.I loved the lost/misfit angle because I could relate to that. Toby’s group reminded me a lot of the group I hung out with in high school. We were sort of a misfit group that grew close because, at least initially, we didn’t belong in any of the established groups. On the other hand, I didn’t identify with Ezra’s jock and party-body sides. I had a particularly hard time with the way under-aged drinking was normalized and almost glorified. While I understand there are groups of people who party and drink in high school, that was completely incongruous with my own experiences.The biggest downsides of the book for me were the extensive swearing/crude language and the unlikeliness of some of the events/situations. If you’ve read my other reviews, you know that swearing and crude language almost never bother me. In fact, swearing doesn’t normally even register for me, but it did in this book and not in a good way. As for the unlikeliness of events and situations, I’m going to have to use an example (not really a spoiler though). On a school-related trip, there are boys and girls in an adjoining hotel room. They are told not to co-mingle, but we all know what happens next, right? That just wasn’t believable for me. While I can’t speak for all schools, I don’t know of any schools where that would have happened. Also, I never figured out the what was up with the coyotes.I loved the prose – the writing really was as lyrical and witty as the book jacket claimed. However, I have to say I was really frustrated/disappointed with the ending. I did like that it highlighted Ezra’s growth, but it didn’t really work for me. With that said, I am sure there are other people who will love the ending so that wouldn’t stop me from recommending it.Rating: 4/5 (But like I said, I don’t even know)PS: If puns annoy you, you may spend a lot of time rolling your eyes. If you want to get a feel for Robyn Schneider’s sense of humor, check out her YouTube channel. That may help you decide if this is a book you want to try.
  • (3/5)
    Since I've been on this deeper contemporary kick for basically the entire summer, I started asking for recommendations for what to read. I got a couple people that told me this doesn't have a deeper meaning, but its still a contemp that I would love because basically everyone that had read it loved it. So I decided to give it a try. In the end, it wasn't exactly what I was expecting but I did enjoy it. Obviously there were some things that I did enjoy so I'll start there first. I loved the characters. Ezra started out as what seemed like a douche in the beginning, but as the story went on I loved that he found himself.He grew and became such an amazing person. Seriously if he was a real life character, I'd probably have been friends with him. His humor and the way he felt about telling jokes was exactly the way I felt. I have to admit, I connected with him in more ways than one. I also loved Toby. He was also an amazing person. Even after all those years he didn't hold a grudge against Ezra and accepted him back so many times without any question. He was such a great friend. I also liked the romance. For it to be written in from a male POV I was expecting a lot of crude comments, but Schneider made it obvious that Ezra loved Cassidy. It was a bit insta-lovey in my opinion, but I thought when you're as broken as Ezra was, company is much needed. I also loved that it went against what I normally read and didn't provide the exact Happily Ever After that I had originally been hoping for. What I didn't like was the plot. It felt like it wasn't going anywhere. Not until the dance night and obviously that was the end. It felt like we were just watching his life day by day to see the few parts between him and Cassidy and that was it. If the book had been mostly like the last 20%, I probably would have loved it a whole lot more. This book was certainly hyped up, but in my honest opinion, they hyped it up just a little too much. Even still, this coming of age novel is filled with humor and amazing characters. They all had me hooked from the very beginning, even if it was just to see where everyone ended up.
  • (3/5)
    This was one of my absolutely must haves from BEA. I had read the synopsis for it way back when it was still "Severed Heads & Broken Hearts" and was really excited for it. While it was kind of strange how they changed both the title and cover so far along, I can understand why. I mean the original title is a bit of a turn off, the cover was cute though. Anyways let's talk about the book!I was looking forward to a contemporary romance told from a guys perspective since most are the opposite. While I didn't dislike Ezra, I didn't care for him much either.As for Ezra's love interest, Cassidy, she was hard to understand. I could never tell how she truly felt about Ezra, debate team, or anything really. I think her quirky personality came across as contrived rather than natural.Overall, I didn't fall in love with this story as much as I expected too. It's an enjoyable contemporary romance, with okay characters but nothing that's going to stick with you once you've finished.
  • (4/5)
    Loved Ezra's voice... Funny and captivating. Exactly what a male protagonist should be. The first person pov works well here, and Robyn Schneider the author is a great storyteller through Ezra. Ezra was sarcastic and tragic, making heavy and light of just the right things. He was brutally honest at times, but also knows how to tell the story without being gratuitous or grusome, but still getting his point across. I just loved the writing style so much! I reviewed this because I loved the synposis, the weird first name of Severed heads, broken hearts (before it changed to the Beginning of Everything) intrigued me, and especially since it was on Edelweiss, though I would have eventually bought or got from the library. Friendship with Toby was good too and hate they went apart for a while but story would have been different. Makes me think about all the little decisions that really effect so much. I adored Toby because he took Ezra right back into his circle without question. He gave him a hard time only in that I love you man ragging kind of way, letting him know by saying the opposite that he accepts him. Cassidy is the love interest in this one, and she is elusive, seems not to care what others think, just is her own person. I liked her, and wanted to know more about her, and only very little by little did it come out. I think that her and Ezra work together, and though there is a bit of insta-love it seems more at first like physical attraction and seeing a wounded part of each other's soul and connecting that way. So, it worked for me, but I can see how it might not for some others. I really enjoy the debate group too. What made this awesome was just that everyone was realistic. No one was perfect, and had their strengths and weaknesses. They were more than one dimensional as well, which is awesome. The ending is so bittersweet, because some of the things I wanted to happen and work out didn't but ultimately we see this huge character growth and development in Ezra that somehow made it all worth it. Bottom Line: Awesome witty writing style, a bittersweet character driven story.
  • (4/5)
    Ezra explores the impact of his one defining tragedy, a car accident that changes his life, in this coming-of-age story. Ezra was a golden boy, popular, captain of the tennis team, and a leader in student government. He catches his girlfriend with another guy at a party, leaves, and on the way home is hit by a car which results in a shattered knee and damaged wrist. Ezra is a smart, interesting, thoughtful guy, and he can discover that and true friends when cut away from the constraints of high school cliques. Of course, he falls in love with Cassidy, but the relationship doesn't turn out to be predictable. Reminded me a bit of Into the Wild Nerd Yonder, another book from Lincoln 2015 list where the main character embraces her inner nerd to find true friendship and herself. An enjoyable read!
  • (4/5)
    Ezra was heir to homecoming king, BMOC, etc. until the crap hit the proverbial fan. Now, he finds himself in limbo between his former sporty friends and his new (and in one case previously-former) friends who are debate geeks, drama kids, and general goofballs. Then enter Cassidy, who is a bit of a manic-pixie-dream-girl trope, but does have some great lines. Overall, a pleasant, funny read.
  • (3/5)
    Meh? This book felt to me like it was trying to be a John Green book (witty, attractive, outsider characters) that ended up a little on the generic side. It was okay, but I can't imagine remembering anything in particular about it in three months.Our main character is a teenage boy who is a sports star in high school, and then has a car accident that means he can no longer play sports, and now he's going through a bit of an identity crisis. He doesn't feel like he fits in with his old crowd of friends (stereotypical drunk, brainless jocks who date stereotypical brainless cheer squad members), and ends up in a crowd of quirky, geeky people. He also starts dating a new girl at school (she is quirky), and then drama happens.Some aspects of this were quite enjoyable. A lot of the dialogue was snappy and sometimes it really hit with the humor. For my taste, the drama was kept too mysterious and then the reveal felt too rushed, and I didn't have any real emotional investment in it because all the information came at the very end.Philosophically, one thing that didn't sit well with me was the presentation of his former crowd - the popular jocks on student council. I kept waiting for the book to delve into this in a more complex way, but that never happened (and there were even things that would make me think "a ha, now is when we get to this!" ... but they never panned out). So we've got this group of popular kids who rule the school, so to speak, and a lot of this book is about the protagonist going through a very difficult experience (the car accident) and discovering, as a result, that his friends are essentially dumb jerks with whom he doesn't have much in common. The big disappointment for me was that this was presented in such a monolithic way. EVERY one of these kids is a dumb jerky jock straight out of a John Hughes movie, and that felt so off to me. Not one of them has other stuff going on? Not one of them has complex feelings or reactions or reasons for their actions or lack of action? I roll my eyes at this in a book that pays a lot of attention to the importance of learning about people as individuals -- but that's a luxury reserved for the outsider characters. And personally -- this isn't a criticism of the book, but a comment on how I read it -- it kept surprising me that the kid's former persona as the prom king BMOC was based on his being the captain of the tennis team. The tennis team? Maybe it's a Southern California thing. At my high school, that was something for football players, or hockey players, or lacrosse players ... but tennis? That would have been a non-characteristic for a student at my school. I'm pretty sure we had a tennis team, but being the captain of it, or even on it, wouldn't have made someone a jock or a geek or anything, really. It was just randomly there.
  • (4/5)
    Ezra was captain of the tennis team and the school's golden boy until he was injured in a hit and run car accident. Returning for his senior year, he discovers that his old friends are not the reliable good crew he would wish for. He becomes friends with the members of the debate team and starts dating a transfer student. It's all good, until his girlfriend suddenly and cruelly dumps him.
  • (4/5)
    I liked this book because I thought it was realistic and i could really relate to it. The only thing that I found disappointing was that I found the end to be a little too predictable. 4/5 ER (9th grade) I chose this book because both the spine and the summery caught my attention. AG
  • (5/5)
    Wow, what a read. It is now in my favorites list (where right now is only 12 books, including this one). It is a very good coming of age story. I more and more becoming to trust booktube recommendations.
    Like you can read I do not have words to describe how this book effect me. Maybe later, after some thinking. Maybe I never will. Some books are like that - very good, but you can´t talk about their goodness. One thing I like to say, even though, there is a dog who dies right at the end (I can´t read about dying animals, so thought to warn others).
  • (5/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    Wow! Just wow! This book is well written; the ending was quite the tragedy, but still unpredictable.

    1 person found this helpful

  • (3/5)
    Be sure to hold onto your seat as you take a ride on an intellectual roller coaster beginning with a teenage boy’s life as he ventures through his high school years experiencing adventures, ultimately landing him on the predefined path for his adult years. The Beginning of Everything, written by Robyn Schneider, is a novel that fills your brain with what the importance of high school is and reminds you not to become absorbed by the daily drama surrounding you because, sometimes, it can change you for the worse. Ezra Faulkner, the main character, believes everyone has a tragedy just waiting to change their lives forever. He was known as the “golden boy” throughout his junior year at Eastwood High where he was the captain of the football team, had a enviable social life, and was in line to be the next homecoming king, with the new girl, Cassidy Thorpe, who everyone fell for as soon as she walked through the hallway doors. He only had one chance to prove to her that he was a good guy before his best friend, Toby, snatched her away from him. Ezra’s life changed completely when he was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, shattering his life into pieces. He was determined to persevere, trying to piece his life back together as he once knew it, but this disaster ruined his athletic career, social life, and his future all at once. Even though he expected his theory to come true, it was devastating it happened to him at the peak of his high school career. The Beginning of Everything is a novel written for teenagers to help them understand you can not always be known as “the golden child” to everyone, and that not everyone is perfect. I would give this novel a three out of five stars because, although the overall plot of this story was intriguing, there were still several places that were very slow, making my interest begin to wane. Also, Robyn Schneider did an exceptional job of making Ezra’s point of view very clear to the reader, but as she intertwined his best friend, Toby’s perspective, it became very difficult for me to see them individually at times. Each of the characters are well developed, distinguishing their personalities and who they are as a person, making them seem capable of personifying real life qualities. Overall, I would recommend this story to friends and classmates, but not to adults as the plot is far more relatable to teens.Come ride the roller coaster as you experience Ezra’s senior year that was once known as “gold” and then as it took a turn, it was nothing Ezra wanted to be involved with in the story, In the Beginning of Everything. Will Ezra be able to piece his life back together, to be “golden” again or will he have to suffer through the dramatic change?
  • (4/5)
    This young adult book rises a bit above the usual cool crowd versus nerds story with clever dialogue, a good deal of humor, and an unconventional ending.The narrator, Ezra Faulkner, has just turned seventeen, and he is the “golden boy” at school - he was junior class president, captain of the tennis team, “embarrassingly popular” and dating the most popular girl, Charlotte. However, at a party at the end of junior year, he got into a fight with Charlotte, discovered her having “outercourse” with another guy, and was in a car accident after he left the party - a hit-and-run by a car that came out of nowhere. Ezra’s knee was shattered, his future as a tennis star was over, and he walked with a cane. The “cool crowd” barely acknowledges him now. Ezra falls in with his old friend from grammar school days, Toby, and Toby’s debate team friends. Toby convinces Ezra to join the team as well, and soon Ezra discovers that these “rejects” actually are better at making conversation and having fun than his old crowd. He also falls for one of the debaters, a new girl at school, Cassidy Thorpe. Cassidy is smart, beautiful in an unconventional way, and definitely follows her own drummer. She tries to convince Ezra that he too can be happy finding out who he is and what he wants rather than just going along with the dictates of the popular kids. She quotes a line from a poem by Mary Oliver to him that she uses as her guide:"Tell me, what is it you plan to do/With our one wild and precious life?”She also teaches Ezra about the modern philosopher Foucault and his idea of the “panopticon”:"…society is like this legendary prison called the panopticon. In the panopticon, you might be under constant observation, except you can never be sure whether someone is watching or not, so you wind up following the rules anyway.”Break out of this high-school imposed prison, she encourages Ezra. And indeed, Ezra goes through a metamorphosis. But Cassidy had a secret, and a prison of her own. Discussion: There is a lot to like about this book, but the story had a few problems that kept me from loving it. First of all, the popular cool kids were too stereotypically totally vapid and nasty without an ounce of complexity. In fact, one was led to wonder how Ezra had originally fit in with them. Cassidy’s character was a bit inconsistent, and while I liked the ending, I don’t know if I found it convincingly believable.The author gives Ezra a clever line to say in class about the Holy Roman Empire that actually came from Voltaire. She was trying to establish that Ezra was actually smart; I don’t think it would have vitiated that aim if she had provided proper attribution.Finally, there was quite a bit of “outersex” going on, but with nary a mention of precautions. Clearly many teens opt for oral sex as a way of avoiding intercourse and/or because they consider it to be safer. While it is true that it won’t lead to pregnancy, several sexually transmitted diseases including HIV, herpes, syphilis, gonorrhea, HPV, and viral hepatitis can be passed on through oral sex, and it can even put you at risk for throat cancer.  I don’t think it would have detracted from the story for the author to have shown the kids using barrier protection.Evaluation: This story is smart and funny in many ways, with lots of interesting messages and a “John Green vibe.” While I had a few criticisms (see the Discussion section), overall I liked the story.
  • (5/5)
    The beginning of everything. There is always a start to something. Whether it be bad or good, it always leads back to where it all started…Plot: Have you ever had something significant happen in your life and you tell the story. But when you begin the story you think,” No, this isn’t were it started. It started when…” Yeah, those moments in life where you think to were it all began. You think what would you would have done differently or even if it was just meant to be that way. This plot is so well written that I had no problem getting into it. The significance to the story and the way it ended, had me thinking about moments in my life where things changed. It flowed nicely with plenty of plot twists and turns.Love: Not all love is meant to be. Most love we all have is a learning experience, right? A cheater boy/girlfriend, a best friend stabbing you in the back, a family member betrayal. Whatever the case, you learn and grow form it. You can either allow it to over take you, making you bitter. Or you can learn from it, take it for what it is and move on. This love had hard lessons to learn. A bad past, lies and a path that crossed before their time, leading on to heartache. It pained me to see the whole picture come together. When it did, I understood.The beginning and the end: Sometimes life sucks. You crossed paths with someone thinking,” This is it!” and it’s not the right time or place. There is something holding you or them back, something you wish you could’ve seen from the start. Something, anything you can do to change the circumstance your in. Life….it sucks sometimes. You can’t control or change things.I think this is great coming of age story of learning about life and love. Capturing the unique essence in life and telling it with great world building/characters is amazing. Taking the reader out of their comfort zone, Ms. Schneider riveting interpretation of fate is at its best. Ambitious and beautiful, The Beginning Of Everything is magical.
  • (3/5)
    I think this story has a lot of emotional truth. The narrator, 17 year-old Ezra Faulkner, has his life turned upside down by a crippling auto accident and struggles to find his place in his senior year of high school, now that his eyes are finally opened to the banality of small-town suburban existence. It was fairly well-written, although I found the plot to be predictable, and The Great Gatsby references were a bit ham-handed… mostly I’m just too old to fully relate to this book. I bet one of my nieces or nephews would love it, but I don’t dare give it to them because their parents would kill me due to the sex and drinking in the story.
  • (5/5)
    I got a copy of this book to review through the Amazon Vine program. It was a wonderful read. It’s a coming of age story in a high school setting that is at turns hilarious and heartfelt. Ezra’s life is changed forever when a reckless driver hits his car, shattering his knee. Ezra’s career as a star athlete is shattered, as is his social life in high school. He finds himself on the debate team, at a table with his elementary school friend, and suddenly in the company of misfits. Things start looking up though when he meets the quirky Cassidy, she is everything Ezra’s never had in a girlfriend before and she opens up a whole new world to him.This is one of those high school coming of age books that is incredibly witty, funny, and heartwarming. Parts of the book are very inciteful and the story is very engaging.Ezra is an incredibly smart kid who's given up his interests in hopes of fitting in and being popular. When he is forced out of the popular crowd because of a car accident he ends up back with his elementary school friends. There he finds the courage to be himself again and not worry about being cool.Some of Ezra’s thoughts and comments are incredibly witty and inciteful. He’s obviously a smart kid who was misled by the urge to be popular. Those of us who are older can look back at this and remember the pressure to be popular and the choices you had to make in high school to be who you wanted to be or be who everyone else thought you should be. It’s something that everyone young and old can relate to.As part of Ezra’s life changing experience he meets a new girl named Cassidy. Cassidy however has mysteries and issues of her own.The story is very engaging and moves at a quick clip. We follow Ezra through his senior year as he tries to figure out who he wants to be. It is a pretty typical coming of age story, but it is very well done and entertaining. This was a quick read that was just a lot of fun to read.Overall I really enjoyed this book. It was at turns laugh out loud funny and heartrending. Ezra is a witty and smart character who is easy to engage with and very likable. The style of the book and the topic reminds a lot of Gayle Forman’s, John Green’s, and David Levithan’s novels. If you are a fan of those types of books I would definitely recommend checking this book out.
  • (4/5)
    Ezra Faulknor was just another teenager until he became a tennis star, and so he also became part of the popular crowd in his school. Then tragedy struck when Ezra found his girlfriend cheating with another guy at a party and he was badly injured in a car accident when leaving from that party. His injuries meant he wouldn't be able to play tennis during his senior year of high school. Because of this, he found that he couldn’t continue to associate with the popular kids whom he now saw as shallow. So he turned to his childhood friend, Toby, for company and developed new friends and new interests. One of those new friends was Cassidy Thorpe. His relationship with Cassidy soon became more than just a friendship even though Toby warned him that getting too close to Cassidy could be dangerous. The premise of this book is that experiencing some sort of tragedy causes changes to take place in one’s life. For Ezra experiencing the accident forced him to understand what was really important in his life and he learned a lot about life, friendships, romance, and heartbreak during his senior year after the accident. The teen reader will enjoy reading about Ezra’s high school activities and friendships but there are some rather intense scenes involving drinking and sex in the novel so I would recommend it to be appropriate for the older YA reader.
  • (3/5)
    Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Talesbyn 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.Quick & Dirty: A thought provoking contemporary read that had some problems, but overall was a really great read.Opening Sentence: Sometimes I think that everyone has a tragedy waiting for them, that the people buying milk in their pajamas or picking their noses at stoplights could be only moments away from disaster.The Review:Seventeen year old Ezra Faulkner believes that everyone will experience some kind of tragedy in their life, a tragedy that will shape them into who they are meant to be, and Ezra just had his. He was once a popular jock with a bright future in tennis, but all of his dreams are shattered the night a reckless driver hits him. Now his knee is shattered and he will permanently have a limp, which means he will never play tennis again. Soon all of his so called friends abandon him and he finds himself hanging out with a new group of misfits.He decides to join the debate team and soon meets the mysterious new girl, Cassidy Thorpe. She is fun, adventurous, and someone that is unlike anyone Ezra has ever known. She forces him to break out of his shell and soon Ezra finds himself really falling for her. But soon Ezra realizes that not everyone is what they seem to be, and his philosophy on life starts to change. He comes to understand that maybe the small tragedies in life are just as impactful as the big ones can be.Ezra was a really great character that I really enjoyed getting to know. At first he is your typical teenage boy trying to navigate high school, but as the story progresses he turns into a very thought provoking character. He grows and learns so much throughout the book, and it was really interesting to watch him mature as a person. He is an intelligent guy, but until his accident he just coasted through life. He was popular, good looking, and a very talented tennis player so things came easy to him. Once that was all taken away you are introduced to a normal teenage boy that has a lot of insecurities. It was almost like he had to start over and he had to learn a lot of hard lessons to finally get to a happy place in his life. I thought that he had a great voice and I really enjoyed reading his story.I had a hard time connecting with Cassidy. She had a fun sporadic personality that made her interesting, but she felt fake to me at times. At first she seemed like such a free spirit when in reality she is weighted down by a lot of personal tragedy. Instead of facing her problems she pretends like they don’t exist and that bothered me. I think the one thing about her that bothered me most was that she didn’t practice what she preached. She pretends to be someone different then she is and that made it really hard to like her. I’m not saying she didn’t have her good moments and her relationship with Ezra was adorable. But in the end she just ended up not being a character I wasn’t particularly fond of.The Beginning of Everything is a unique contemporary read that has some cute romance but it is mainly a coming of age story. For me this book has some really profound moments, but it also had some extremely over exaggerated moments as well. The first few chapters of the book were really great and they instantly drew me into the story, but unfortunately it didn’t last. I soon found myself losing interest in the story, but then something would happen that would draw me back in. Then the story would start to drag and I would find myself losing interest once again, the entire book was really up and down for me which was frustrating (but hey — I guess it matches the roller coaster they have on the cover :D ). I will admit that Schneider has beautiful writing that made up for some of the pacing problems and was one of the main reasons I actually ended up enjoying the book overall. Another thing I loved about this book was that it had a realistic ending. In real life not everything turns out to be a fairytale and this book portrayed that really well. The message that Schneider delivered was inspirational and I thought she did a wonderful job getting her point across. This story had some problems, but overall I found it to be very thought provoking and I would highly recommend YA contemporary fans give it a try.Notable Scene:There is a type of problem in organic chemistry called a retrosynthesis. You are presented with a compound that does not occur in nature, and your job is to work backward, step by step, and ascertain how it came to exist—what sort of conditions led to its eventual creation. When you are finished, if done correctly, the equation can be read normally, making it impossible to distinguish the question from the answer.I still think that everyone’s life, no matter how unremarkable, has a singular tragic encounter after which everything that really matter will happen. That moment is the catalyst—the first step in the equation. But knowing the first step will get you nowhere—it’s what comes after that determines the result.FTC Advisory: Katherine Tegen/HarperTeen provided me with a copy of The Beginning of Everything. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
  • (4/5)
    I read this a while ago; great book!!!
  • (4/5)

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    Robyn Schneider's novel underwent a title change from Severed Heads, Broken Hearts to The Beginning of Everything. Both titles I think are fitting for the story within, though I must say I feel a certain affection for the original, which conveys both the humor and the darkness of Schneider's witty, brilliant debut. Ezra Faulkner theorizes that no one's life really begins until they go through a personal tragedy. This may seem an odd sort of belief, but it makes sense. Tragedy has a way of putting things in perspective. The loss of a family member, of mobility, or of social standing has a way of forcing a person to reevaluate life and decide what is really important. Realizing how tenuous and random life can be, it's crucial to spend what life you have being who you really are and with the people who really get you.Ezra and Toby were best friends until they were fourteen. That friendship came to a halt after a tourist stood up in the row in front of them on a roller coaster at Disney, the tourist's severed head landing in Toby's arms for the rest of the ride. For the rest of high school, Toby will be that kid with the severed head. Meanwhile, Ezra grew up well, attractive and athletic, and became friends with the popular kids. He partied, dated hot girls, and planned to get a college scholarship for tennis. Then, at a party one night, a driver hit his car, leaving him crippled.As school starts up for his senior year, the former Homecoming King doesn't feel like he belongs anywhere. He walks with a cane, his girlfriend has hooked up with his former best friend, and his plans for the future are shot. In his life's nadir, he finds a sort of freedom, though. He can now admit to being intelligent and nerdy, rediscover his friendship with Toby, and cultivate a spot with some of the school's nerds. Tragedy serves as a bridge to help him realize how unsatisfying his life up to then truly was.Schneider's writing is fantastic. First of all, she completely captures an authentic male voice. Ezra never read like a girl to me, but neither was his narrative over the top in an effort to sell his maleness. Secondly, Schneider peppers the narrative with literary references, which, admittedly, might be alienating to some teen readers, but that I loved. Finally, there are the puns. If you do not appreciate finely tuned wordplay, you might find The Beginning of Everything pun-ishing. However, if you deem puns fine humor, you may well laugh your head off (don't worry; Toby will catch it for you).The romance in The Beginning of Everything falls a bit into manicpixiedreamgirl territory, but it works. Ezra is taken with Cassidy immediately, with her mystery, her intelligence, and her vibrancy. She appreciates his puns and can give them back. They have great chemistry, but she always keeps her walls way way up. Why this worked for me is that Ezra falls in love with her, but in a totally high school first love sort of way, and not in a true love forever sort of way. Also, there's a realization of how little she actually was the perfect girl of his dreams.The only aspect of the book that left me wanting was the ending. The climax that leads to the spilling of Cassidy's secrets was unexpected, despite the foreshadowing that lead up to it. That scene did not rub me the right way, and just felt a bit out of place in the novel. Plus, Cassidy's sudden opening up didn't seem fitting with what went down either. Without explaining what happened, it's hard to put this clearly, but I found what happened a bit puzzling and melodramatic.Robyn Schneider's novel is highly intelligent and full of black humor. Fans of John Green, particularly Looking for Alaska and Paper Towns, will most definitely want to read The Beginning of Everything.

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