The Beginning of Everything was the first book I read by Robyn Schneider, and it was a lot better than I thought it would be. Mr. Popular Ezra Faulkner has it all: top tier friends, good grades, position as president of his class, popular girlfriend, and position as captain of the tennis team. Ezra believes there’s one moment in everyone’s life that changes everything, and his event takes away everything he believed himself to be. He spends the summer before his senior year in hospitals, physical therapy, counseling, and his bed. Back at school in the fall, he’s a completely different person, and knows that he can’t go back to his old life ever again. He feels like he doesn’t belong anywhere. That is, until Cassidy Thorpe comes to town. Cassidy is different (of course) – she’s unlike any of the other girls in school. Ezra lets Cassidy into his life, and slowly, he begins to find what he’d be searching for all along: himself. But is this because of Cassidy, or is he becoming his true self all on his own? Is this the beginning of everything?
The first few chapters are a little hard to push through. The first chapter easily draws you in and makes you realize the sick hilarity of the book cover, but the next few chapters are a little more difficult to get into. However, I strongly recommend you keep on reading – it gets better. A lot better. This book is filled with sharp wit and endearing sarcasm, and made me smirk (sometimes laugh) quite often. Ezra was a fantastic narrator, and a great character overall. I loved following his story, and seeing the development he went through as a character. There were a lot of things I liked about Cassidy, but at the same time, I was disappointed that she didn’t have the same character arc as Ezra…in fact, I don’t think she really matured at all as a character, and that saddens me.
Some people criticize that the book was cliche and predictable, but I think quite the opposite; I found myself surprised at the ending. On one hand, I want all books to have a happy ending; I want the characters to live happily ever after and I want everything to work out because my life is not that way, and I read to escape and become someone else and experience a happy ending. However, I know that life is not like that; life doesn’t really give out happily ever after’s. Life is messy. Relationships are messy. Senior year of high school (and beyond) is stressful. Heartbreak is, well, heartbreaking. So even though I want everything to always work out in the end, a part of me is sometimes glad when a book (especially a YA book) has a sad ending. I’m not saying this book has a sad ending, though. It does have a sad element to it, but it’s not all sad. It’s actually pretty inspiring and thought-provoking. Schneider did a great job with the ending. I ended up really liking this book. I encourage any YA fans to read it. It has good lessons, even if those lessons are a little bittersweet.
Favorite Quote: “Life is the tragedy. You know how the categorize Shakespeare’s plays, right? If it ends with a wedding, it’s a comedy. If I 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 goddamned wedding.”