15 June 2015

The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider

I don’t even remember how I first heard about THE BEGINNING OF EVERYTHING. I just know I added it to my list and it came up quickly and I dove right in.

It was a deep dive. Right from the start, Ezra Faulkner’s voice was vivid, so heartbreaking and yet fierce, that I was in love with the book. I read the whole thing in a day. I don’t do that often.

Ezra lets us know that he believes everyone’s life is defined by a singular moment: an event after which everything is different for them. For his former best friend, Toby, it was when a tourist stood up in a roller coaster in front of them and was decapitated; his head landed in Toby’s lap.

For Ezra, who is the star of his high school tennis team and shoe-in for homecoming king, it was the night he found his girlfriend cheating on him at a party, and then got injured in a hit-and-run that left his knee shattered so badly that he has to walk with a cane. Playing tennis was out of the question: the thing he used to define himself was suddenly gone.

In the aftermath of his own tragedy, Ezra has to reevaluate everything about himself: who he hangs out with (he reconnects with Toby in a wonderful series of scenes), he distances himself from his shallow jock friends, and he meets mysterious new girl Cassidy Thorpe. He joins the debate team. He falls in love.

THE BEGINNING OF EVERYTHING is the kind of book that’s right up my alley: hope and heartbreak intertwined; great characters; a romance that’s fun and swoon-worthy without being sappy. And it had a melancholy ending, which I usually enjoy.

But something kept me from loving it. I liked it—a LOT—but I didn’t love it.

One reason was Cooper: Ezra’s poodle. I LOVED Cooper. But I did not like how his story arc finished out. I was super pissed off.

The other reason was that time and time again, there were these small moments—beautiful, poignant, charged moments—where I just felt like I wasn’t getting the emotional reward I had been promised. Characters talked around things without every quite resolving them, like joggers who turn back just before cresting a hill. And it happened several times.

I needed those releases. I needed that catharsis.

Still, all in all, I really enjoyed THE BEGINNING OF EVERYTHING, and I found myself noting quite a few excellent, voice-y passages. Robyn Schneider has a new book coming out soon, and I will definitely be adding it to my pile.