The Beginning of Everything
By Robyn Schneider
What defines you? What if everything that made you “you” changed in an instant? Where would you go from there? These are the questions asked within the pages of THE BEGINNING OF EVERYTHING by Robyn Schneider, a contemporary that will likely appeal to fans of “hipster” fiction.
Although the novel’s previous title, Severed Heads, Broken Hearts, fit the overall mood of the novel, the new title THE BEGINNING OF EVERYTHING fits the book’s themes. About a young high school soon-to-be senior, Ezra, the novel focuses on the changes that occur in his life before and after a tragic hit-and-run accident. Damaged, Enzra can no longer reign as the star tennis player at his school, or as boyfriend of the most popular cheerleader, or as leader of the social pack. Without these statuses which previously defined him, Ezra invokes his inner wallflower and finds that he actually likes it there.
While a very thoughtful and gorgeously written read, I did find a few faults with THE BEGINNING OF EVERYTHING. One of which is the “good” versus “evil” status that exists between the social groups in Ezra’s high school. Granted, this idea is highly realistic as to the way things are with kids as this age, especially in the richest areas of southern California, the constant reminder proved repetitive early on. Really, I think I am just over the whole “us” versus “them” attitude that kids have in high school. Labels? Blah… Oh, and overused hipster dialogue that contributes nothing to the novel? Double blah…
Ezra adopts a highly realistic “woe is me” attitude after his accident. This attitude eventually turns into numbness and resignation. Much of the changes with regard to his attitude are self-induced, as a direct result of the injuries caused by his accident. Essentially, Ezra’s battle is more of a battle within – a point that I certainly appreciated.
Then along comes a girl… Ah, Cassidy. While she was an interesting character full of personality and zingy one-liners, she is actually the one other fault I found with THE BEGINNING OF EVERYTHING. Ezra eventually becomes completely preoccupied by this girl, and I can see why since she is nothing like any of the girls he has ever known. She is thrilling, she offers him an escape – yet eventually the thrill of the chase almost becomes his entire reason for being (since apparently he doesn’t have any other “reason for being”…) Cassidy frustrated me. As a romantic interest for Ezra, she did very little for this reader. For reasons unknown to us, aside from the fact that “Cassidy could be here one day and gone the next”, we learn very little about her until the very end of the novel – and at that point we really don’t know whether we should love her or strangle her. Even still, she plays a large part in bringing about the changes within Ezra.
While I loved the ending (I found one part of it to be highly realistic and appreciated the position in which it put the characters) I did find the larger conflict to be slightly contrived. I have seen this plot twist before, multiple times even, though I did not see it coming in THE BEGINNING OF EVERYTHING until it actually happened/was revealed to us. At that point I was all: Seriously? This is the conflict you are going to put in front of Ezra? Sigh… Well. At least it resolves things for our characters the way I hoped it would…
All in all, THE BEGINNING OF EVERYTHING was an enjoyable read, but a few things kept me from loving it. Even still, I can’t help but recommend it to readers of contemporary teen fiction. Also, if you’ve read The Perks of Being a Wallflower and are looking for something along the same lines, you might want to check this one out.