Author: Robyn Schneider
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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. (via Goodreads)
I decided to pick this up after I received an ARC of her latest book Extraordinary Means at YALL West, and discovered that Robyn is having a signing for it later this month. I figured that since my copy of EM is already signed, I should read her first book in case I wanted to buy it at her signing, too.
Honestly, I didn’t feel too strongly either way about this book. I didn’t exactly hate it, but I didn’t love it either. It was just… okay. Not sure what I was expecting exactly when I started reading The Beginning of Everything, especially when it started off with the main character, Ezra Faulkner explaining how he believes “everyone has a tragedy waiting for them.” Just by that line I should’ve known things weren’t exactly going to end well for him, but I – for some reason I’m not even aware of; maybe I’m secretly an optimist? (Nah, doubt it.) – figured his tragedy would simply be the catalyst for his maturation, loss of innocence, coming-of-age, etc. Then after he gets past his personal tragedy, things would be better and the book would end with his life irrevocably changed for the better. Was that what happened? Well… Not exactly.
After Ezra’s personal tragedy, I thought there was no way things could get any worse for the kid. Not only was he girlfriend-less – which, actually, wasn’t so bad considering how shallow, insensitive, and conceited she was – but he would never have a tennis career like he had planned, and even worse, he couldn’t run and play with his dog like before anymore. Good things happened to him after his old life fell apart: he found an interesting and mysterious girlfriend named Cassidy, got his childhood best friend back, and seemed to have finally accepted his true self. Sure, Ezra was a great tennis player but the only reason he became involved with the sport was because all his popular friends were. Later, Ezra slowly sheds the athlete persona he had created for himself and finally begins to see his true self. Everything is finally going well for him! Aaaaand then it all crashes down again.
Cassidy suddenly breaks up with him and when he finally discovers her deep dark secret, tries to win her back, but then she confesses something else that basically explains why they would never work out. Oh, but that’s not what upset me the most. What upset me the most and actually made me tear up was when his dog got mauled by a coyote after trying to protect Ezra from it. I am a huge HUGE dog/animal lover so that was SO not okay for me. This book left me feeling so melancholy at the end, even after Ezra was already in college and everything seemed to be okay again, that I immediately jumped into my next read just to forget about it.
*END OF SPOILERS*
Like I said, I didn’t exactly dislike this book but I also didn’t really love it either.