Ezra Faulkner believes that everyone has a tragedy in their lives. That one formative moment that will forever define them in terms of the before and the after. For some people that tragedy involves a severed head. For others it can be as mundane as a broken heart.
For Ezra, it starts with a cheating girlfriend and ends with a shattered knee that destroys his athletic career and, along with it, everything Ezra has used to define himself for years. Suddenly, Ezra is no longer at the top of the high school social ladder. He isn’t a part of his circle of friends. He will never play Varsity tennis again.
Instead Ezra has to start over, complete with his super
trendy annoying cane and wrist brace, to try and find a place for himself. Along the way he is adopted by the school misfits, joins the debate team, and falls hopelessly into the orbit of Cassidy Thorpe.
Effortlessly vivid and mysterious, Cassidy immediately fascinates Ezra the way she does everyone else. With her sharp wit and humor, it’s easy to fall for her, especially when she is always bringing Ezra on adventures. But, much like her appearance at Ezra’s school, nothing to do with Cassidy Thorpe is quite what Ezra expects.
During a year spent redefining himself in the wake of his own tragedy, Ezra has to decide what it means when some people can’t–or won’t–move past their personal tragedy in The Beginning of Everything (2013) by Robyn Schneider.
The Beginning of Everything is a clever, often quirky, coming-of-age story. Schneider ably captures Ezra’s voice in a narration that is surprisingly insightful while remaining sardonic and never, ever becoming pretentious. Set in California, Schneider brings a sprawling suburban town to life from the school’s food court and classes down to the high security of each gated community.
There are a lot of things to enjoy in The Beginning of Everything including Schneider’s nods to The Great Gatsby and the humor and optimism she maintains in what could have been a weighty, sad narrative. With so many strengths, it is the cast of characters that set The Beginning of Everything apart as Schneider skillfully creates an ensemble where even the most minor characters feel like they are just waiting to star in their own novel.
Schneider packs in an array of literary and pop culture references ranging from the Panopticon to Neopets to Banksy with a smattering of foreign vocabulary thrown in to taste. Ezra’s story is both familiar and original as Schneider brings a whole new dimension to the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope and effectively turns the very idea of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl completely upside down. Equal parts breezy and smart, The Beginnign of Everything is a delight.
Possible Pairing: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, Don’t Ever Change by M. Beth Bloom, Girl Overboard by Justina Chen, Finding Mr. Brightside by Jay Clark, Paper Towns by John Green, The Last True Love Story by Brendan Kiely, The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth LaBan, This Raging Light by Estelle Laure, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart, Drawing the Ocean by Carolyn MacCullough, Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta, After the Kiss by Terra Elan McVoy, Even in Paradise by Chelsey Philpot, Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, A Map of the Known World by Lisa Ann Sandell, How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford, Six Impossible Things by Fiona Wood, The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner
*This book was acquired for review from the publisher at BEA 2013*