BOOK REVIEW: The Beginning of Everything by Robyn SchneiderThe Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider
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Synopsis:

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 thought about the metal in my knee, replacing this piece of me that was missing, that no longer worked. And it wasn’t my heart, I kept telling myself. It wasn’t my heart.

Ah, okay…so. So. I’m going to venture out and say I have no clue what I want to say. There. Simple. I said it. Except…I had so much to say. I had little notes written here and there and I found some great enjoyment and humor from page one to the end. And then there was so much sadness entwined in each layer of humor, of each dig at his being crippled. It was a very complex book in the aspect that you didn’t know if you should be happy or sad sometimes….Like, at times, I wondered why this book focused so much on popularity, like it was almost mockingly downplaying the tragedy of his accident. But then, before I could get too judgmental, the main character kind of snapped out of it-He began to see life for what it really was, what it meant, who he could be…and that’s where I found my greatest enjoyment.

Everyone’s life, no matter how unremarkable, has a moment when it will become extraordinary-a single encounter after which everything that really matters will happen.

I’m sure a lot of teens do go through the motions from day-to-day, taking for granted the fact that they woke up breathing, had many friends, and were a part of whatever tier their little social hierarchy was…I know I did. I never cared or thought twice about who I was or where I ranked. I never had to worry about it-until I did. Life changes. People evolve. You meet your soul mate or whoever you think you should be with, you make career choices or college choices or even life choices, and your friends might no longer be compatible with where you are going. I understand that, because it happened to me. I never thought of my rank…until I met THE one-Yeah, that guy I’m married to, now.

Tennis was like a video game, one that I’d beat a million times, with the pleasure of winning long gone. A game that I’d kept on playing because people expected me to, and I was good at doing what people expected. But not anymore, because no one seemed to expect anything from me anymore. The funny thing about gold is how quickly it can tarnish.

It’s funny how quickly people turn on you when you don’t want to hang out with endless boys every Friday and Saturday night like they used to ask you to-how quickly I was outcast-It was almost comical. But what happens when you are outcast from the ‘awesomest group of friends ever?’ You move the fuck on-just like I did. You see, part of who I can say I was (and I still am, really), is that I never was mean to people. I had friends in every clique, group, sports team, whatever. So I just walked to the other side of the hallway to my other friends standing by their lockers, and it was as easy as breathing-except it wasn’t. It hurt. It hurt like a mother fucker that my best friend, the girl who had spent the night at my house for a whole summer while we stayed up ’til 4 AM watching scary movies and binge-drinking Mountain Dew (except when we had a game the next day!), had iced me out, was spreading rumors about me, talking behind my back, and generally trying to make my life a living hell-and it was-internally. Keep in mind: One day we were totally fine, the next, people were approaching me saying that my best friend was talking about me and we apparently weren’t friends anymore. This was news to me. All because of who I chose to date. It’s sick, and there’s more to the story, as there always is, but that’s the gist of it. We were at pivotal moments in our lives, and she wanted to start rebelling, to start drinking and partying, as most kids do, I realize, but I was never that way. I didn’t need anyone to pull me in that direction, my parents aren’t/weren’t drinkers, so I was never going to take that path. She had started to go out behind my back (I don’t know why? I wouldn’t have cared…just proof positive of her insecurities-who am I to judge? You’re my best friend for fuck sakes…) and fib-Me dating my now-husband was just the final jealous nail in the coffin. It is what it is. My point? While it hurt that my soccer friends and everyone on that social tier was being kind of ridiculous, I held my head high like I didn’t care, moved on to my other friends, and walked down the hallways laughing and acting as if my world hadn’t changed. Sometimes life takes a direction you never expected-but it makes you a better person for it, in the end.

It was like the part of me that had enjoyed those friends had evaporated, leaving behind a huge, echoing emptiness, and I was scrabbling on the edge of it, trying not to fall into the hole within myself because I was terrified to find out how far down it went.


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And believe me when I say that I had no intention of writing any of that-it never even crossed my mind while reading this book, but, for some reason, when I started this review, that story felt relevant. You know, the lack of similarities as you grow older, the fact that I chose to take a different path, a harder path. Oh, PS, she had apologized a year later-after I was okay with standing on the other side of the field during soccer practice and acting like it didn’t bother me at all to hang with other girls on the team. It came in the form of-“Oh, wow *grabs ear* when did you get this pierced? That’s cool!” I guess we acted like it never happened…except for a letter of apology. Needless to say, we barely talk now, but we’re on okay terms. Sigh. Anyway. I am not comparing myself to Ezra, I think he was a little skewed on his thoughts of who he should hang out with and why…but it felt right to mention that, even when things aren’t going the way you want them to, it might not be the worst thing to happen to you, nor is it the end of the world.

He’d grown up into exactly the unabashedly nerdy, quick-witted guy you’d expect from a kid who went door-to-door selling homemade comics to raise the start-up capital for our summer lemonade stand when we were ten. And I’d grown up into a massive douche-with a cane.

My story had a happily ever after….but did Ezra’s? His story, even from the beginning, while riddled with his humor, had a dark undertone. His life was tennis, he was popular, he had a girlfriend…then one fateful night he gets slammed into by an SUV-shattering his knee beyond repair. He will never get to play tennis again. His whole life, career path, etc, are gone…or so he thinks. I loved that he was a closet nerd. It made me deliriously happy, actually. I can’t say I always loved all the conversations he had with his new found (some old, some new) group, but I loved the sincerity with which he connected with them-how he finally felt like he belonged and that was where he always should have been. I loved Ezra, in the end.

She was achingly effortless, and she would never, in a million years, choose me. But, for the next few minutes, I contented myself with the magnificent possibility that she might.

I had a lot of problems with this book. I can’t even tell you why (See blur rating shelf above). But some things I can tell you:

1. The Romance-Fuck that bitch, Ezra, you could do better. I didn’t like her-ever. But that’s my personal opinion. My heart melted as he fell in love with the mysterious Cassidy Thorpe. He was such a fragile, adorable boy who fell for a girl completely high on herself. Eh, I’m biased, sue me.

As always, she left me wanting more, and dreaming of what it would be like if I ever got it.

*****************

She tasted like buried treasure and swing sets and coffee. She tasted the way fireworks felt, like something you could get close to but never really have just for yourself.

2. The Plot-While a wonderful message, in the end (for a while it seemed a tad clique-y and cliche, maybe it always was, but I stopped seeing it near the end), it was a tad day-to-day activity for me, and I didn’t like the people he surrounded himself with enough to love it.

3. The Characters See above. But I loved Toby and Cooper. More on Cooper here in a sec. I never really believed the character’s reactions-not all of them, anyway. Some of it felt false or misplaced and I kind of thought those parts were a little exaggerated. But that’s probably just me.

4. The Voice/Humor I LOVED Ezra’s voice. I wasn’t sure at first, but as the story progressed, I started to highlight more and more of his hilarious voice. His humor was THE BEST. Perfectly cheesy humor and bad puns-win.

5. Nostalgic References If you were a child of the 90’s, or even remotely aware of any happenings, toys, shows, etc. in the 90’s, the nostalgic ramblings, conversations, and throw backs were epic. I was smiling SO big about stuff I had long forgotten. Wow.

6. CooperCooper the dog was by far my second favorite character. The way he talks to him and the bond they have breaks my heart. He had read The Great Gatsby over the summer and had a ton of those type of references, imagining the dog referring to him as ‘old sport’ on more than one occasion. I LOVED this dog-he is loyal, fun, and a total badass….I absolutely adored this aspect.

7. I criedThat is all. Out of nowhere. Right in the feels.

We move through each other’s lives like ghosts, leaving behind haunting memories of people who never existed. The popular jock. The mysterious new girl. But we’re the ones who choose, in the end, how people see us. And I’d rather be misremembered.

So, without further adieu, I will wrap this up. I never meant for this to be long. It was actually supposed to be short because I both loved and hated this…but sometimes, as my friend just said, the review decides for you. I think there was a lot of stereotype stuff in here, but the message was clear: It wanted to be stereotypical. It wanted the message to pop out at the end for all to see, and I get what the author was doing. I just wonder if people with this dislike in books will be able to get past that and the somewhat slow pace to actually get to the message at the end. I don’t know. Either way, I had a fun time with this one-for the most part.

**PS, there were literally so many quotes I wanted to use that I couldn’t-if nothing else, this book had a million quotable parts. I am sad I didn’t have enough room, lol.


***

This one hurt, Guys-really, truly, deeply. Ouch.


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But not for the reasons you’d suspect….Or maybe exactly for the reasons you suspect. Who knows.

Review to come.

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