Thursday, July 10, 2014

Review: The Beginning of Everything

The Beginning of Everything
Author: Robyn Schneider
Published: August 27, 2013
Paperback, 335 pages
4 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

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.

This book started off with a bang. In the first chapter we discover that Ezra's friend caught a decapitated head at Disneyland and that Ezra was in a car accident and his athletic career is over. It's kind of an alarming beginning, but it's the whole point of the story. If you've already had your one tragedy in life, is it worth dwelling on? Is your life over because of your misfortune? Ezra has lost all his friends, including his girlfriend, and sees them in a whole new light now that he's on the outside. But when he meets the new girl Cassidy and her friends, everything changes. She dresses different, reads a lot and shows Ezra a whole different life than he's known. Ezra hates to admit that he's falling for her, but she is just what he needs in this point in life and sees a whole new perspective of high school with her. 

This is the kind of contemporary that I love. About people trying to survive through high school and overcoming something that's happened to them. Ezra and Cassidy have a lot of moments together that made me smile and I was rooting for them throughout the novel. Both characters are strong and well defined and it makes them so real, especially since at first glance they have nothing in common. It shows someone's fall from grace as exactly how it could be. You can be king of the school one day and the next have everything taken from you. But does being the homecoming king really define who you are? Ezra learns this the hard way, but in doing so finds out who he really is and what he's capable of. Without sports blocking his view, he has the chance to read more, find a new passion and explore a whole other life. 

Schneider captured teen life perfectly and her perception of a teenage boy digs into the heart of it. Ezra is a stellar character with a dry, sarcastic sense of humour and I loved it. He was very much a high school guy and Cassidy balanced that out with being an eccentric high school girl who seems older than her years. The two of them had a tragedy of a relationship and it was so realistic that it hurt. I love happy endings but I know those aren't real for everyone so I understand why this book ended the way it did, but it broke my heart. But high school is just four years of our life and hopefully we get through it to move on to better things. 

“Life is the tragedy,' she said bitterly. 'You know how they categorize Shakespeare's plays, right? If it ends with a wedding, it's a comedy. And if it ends with a funeral, it's a tragedy. So we're all living tragedies, because we all end the same way, and it isn't with a goddamn wedding.”

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