The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: August 27, 2013
Publisher: Katharine Tegan (HarperTeen)
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: high school, debate team, secrets
Format read: ARC from Publisher via Edelweiss. (Thanks!)
Summary: A car accident catapults Ezra into a very different senior year than he imagined: debate team instead of tennis, rekindling old friendships and making new ones instead of manning his spot at the popular crowd’s table, and a connection to a girl who challenges him and makes him want more.
Did you ever find yourself in a group of people who were talking about something totally over your head and all you could do is just stand there, nodding and smiling?
That’s kind of how I felt when I was reading The Beginning of Everything. I didn’t connect with golden-boy-turned outcast, Ezra, as much as I wanted to. (This might have had something to do with him narrating the story after it happened. The events and after thoughts felt too polished.) And when the quirky Cassie was thrown into the mix, the tone of the story got a little haughty. The literary references, the tid-bits of trivia, and reciting poetry to make a point? I found myself just not relating to the way they communicated with one another, and I wish all of these tidbits felt more down-to-earth.
Schneider does excel when it comes to the chemistry between Ezra and Cassie (a mysterious attraction that reminded me of John Green’s Looking for Alaska) and the rekindled friendship between Ezra and Toby. After years of blending into the popular crowd, I loved that Ezra was able to reconnect with his geeky self and accept that that part of him would always exist. Toby was a loyal friend; the years of silence between them were just water under the bridge. He never held any grudges even though Ezra could have been a better friend.
Also: the Disneyland scenes (minus the earliest one) sprinkled in every once in awhile were awesome.
There are two twists at the end: one of them totally broke my heart and the other one, well, I think it tied things together a bit too perfectly. I never once suspected the second twist, but I think the book could have easily worked without it. (Sometimes a little mystery is a good thing.) The Beginning of Everything may not have been a perfect read for me, but I am looking forward to see Schneider come into her own as a writer in her next books.