Title: The Beginning of Everything
Author: Robyn Schneider
Publisher: Katherine Tegen
Release Date: August 27th, 2013
Interest: Contemp / 2013 Debut Author
Source: ARC received from the publisher
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.
I’ve been sitting on this review of The Beginning of Everything for months now. I had mixed feelings about it when I finished reading and wasn’t sure what to say in my review. Now that it’s months later, I’m still not sure what I want to say, so this may be a short review. Before I get into my actual review, I will say that I plan on reading more of Robyn Schneider’s books, even if her debut wasn’t one that I loved.
While I didn’t love The Beginning of Everything, I did enjoy Ezra’s story. It’s an engaging read and one that I liked. The issue I have with it, is that it’s too similar to Looking for Alaska. I try not to make comparisons to John Green’s work, especially with debut authors, but sometimes it’s impossible not to. While I read Schneider’s debut, all I could think was that she read Looking for Alaska and wanted to write her own version of it. Is there a great tragedy in The Beginning of Everything? No. Does it take place at a boarding school? No. But the characters are written quite similarly, especially Cassidy. And the same kind of pretentious attitude from other characters is present as well (think Weekday Warriors).
I’d describe both Alaska and Cassidy as manic pixie dream girls, but while I loved Alaska, I grew tired of Cassidy and her whims. I liked Ezra and think some of my guys in class would like him and his story, but Cassidy, while being smart and unique, bored me. I think that if she wasn’t written so similarly to Alaska I would have liked her character more.
I think if The Beginning of Everything wasn’t written so similarly to Looking for Alaska I would have liked this book more. But like I said, I enjoyed reading it. I’m disappointed that it isn’t more of its own book. Maybe if I didn’t teach, and read, and discuss Looking for Alaska every year, I would think differently. But I doubt it.
I know some of my students will love this. When I was reading it, I read the first few pages to my class and hooked a few of my students. I’m sure I’ll be able to do that again with this new group of students.