Thursday, September 26, 2013

I smiled and I cried at The Beginning of Everything

Author:  Robyn Schneider
Publisher:  Katherine Tegan
Date:  Now available
Source:  Publisher via Edelweiss
My grade:  A+

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.

Initial Reaction
::wipes eyes::  Remember the very first time you ever fell in love?  Like, real love???  And how it broke your heart?

Cover Story
Thank God they changed the title and cover on this one.  When I first got this review copy it was called “Severed Heads and Broken Hearts” and had the most butt-ugly cover ever!  Who came up with that title?  I hope they got fired!  But “The Beginning of Everything” is a GORGEOUS title and I like the cover.  It’s bright and eye-catching without being cheesy or too teen girl.  I would proudly read this book in the doctor’s office with no fear of judgement.

What’s the Story?
Ezra was the popular jock boy on campus.  Then he did something dumb.  Really dumb.  He drove drunk one night and had a wreck.  One girl was hurt pretty badly and he completely smashed his knee.  Now, he can’t walk without a cane and his sports career is over.  He basically spends all summer in his house along, ignoring all the phone calls and only leaving to go to physical therapy.

Fast forward to the first day of school.  Ezra arrives late and is offered a seat by the kid he used to be friends with in middle school, but who is not really his friend now.  So he and Toby reconnect and Ezra finds himself avoiding the jock table at lunch in favor of the Misfit table.  And he discovers that he actually “speaks geek” really well and he completely fits in with this little group of high school misfits.

Enter Cassidy, the free spirit girl who seems to be the antithesis of the popular girls that Ezra has dated.  She’s mysterious, she’s philosophical and she seems to get Ezra.  He is totally taken by her and she becomes part of the group.

One of the things that made this novel so remarkable is the really likeable cast of characters.  I really liked Ezra, even though at times he was a total, well, dumbass.  He was such a typical teenaged boy and I think that Robyn Schneider did a fabulous job of capturing the teen boy voice.  I never once found myself thinking that a man would have written his voice differently, so bravo Robyn!  I also found myself wanting to sit down at the lunch table with the rest of the characters and just hang out with them.  Toby was especially fun!

This is such a beautiful coming-of-age story.  I loved watching Ezra trying to find himself.  He struggled in many ways and he sometimes made the wrong choices, but I feel like he had such a strong character by the end of the novel.  And even though it wasn’t exactly a happy ending, I closed the book knowing that Ezra would grow up to be a wonderful man.  He really did find his true voice, or at least he began the process very well.

This story didn’t really have a lot of action.  It was much more character driven than plot-driven, but it totally worked.  The plot was Ezra’s search for who he is and where he fits in and how he decides what sort of man he wants to be.  I laughed with him and cried with him and in the end, I was just so damn proud of him.

I loved this book.  I loved Ezra.  I loved Toby.  I can’t wait to recommend this book and see how many of my students love it too.

The Soundtrack

Keep Breathing by Ingrid Michaelson

Life Is Beautiful by The Icarus Project

A Beautiful Mess by Jason Mraz

We Belong Together by Gavin DeGraw

Skinny Love by Bon Iver

Can’t Make You Love Me by Bon Iver

The Final Grade
My final grade for this book is an A+.  This is a poignant, bittersweet coming-of-age novel that will both break your heart and make you smile.  It doesn’t get much better than that!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.  I was given no compensation, financial or otherwise, for this review, especially not a hot geeky guy.

No comments:

Post a Comment