Before we begin the review of The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider, I’d like to point out that the novel is titled Severed Heads, Broken Hearts in the UK. This version, while slightly gorier, gives readers a more accurate idea of the story they are about to delve into.
Ezra Faulkner believes “everyone’s life, no matter how unremarkable, has a singular tragic encounter after which everything that really matters will happen.” At the end of his junior year of high school, it seems Ezra has evaded his own theory. As class president, star of the varsity tennis team, and leader of the most popular clique in school, Ezra is the stereotypical golden boy. That is, until his personal tragedy catches up to him one night before prom, and his life is changed forever. With his girlfriend, popularity, and illustrious tennis career yanked right out from underneath him, it seems like Ezra is doomed to suffer through senior year in misery. Enter Cassidy Thorpe, an eccentric new student with a mysterious past who catches Ezra’s eye right away. It’s clear early on that Cassidy is a textbook Manic Pixie Dream Girl, making The Beginning of Everything feel a bit like a second-rate Looking for Alaska, but for those who haven’t read John Green and/or those who aren’t put off by the trope, Schneider’s novel could be a feel-good novel about finding oneself after falling from grace.
Readers around Ezra’s age are most likely to enjoy The Beginning of Everything. Mentions of alcohol use and sexual encounters are sprinkled throughout the novel, but members of the target audience won’t be put off by Ezra’s experiences or commentary as they have probably engaged in similar escapades.
If read before any of John Green’s novels (specifically Looking for Alaska), The Beginning of Everything will seem like a twist on the tired story of a jock falling for the quirky new girl, but when compared to Green’s works (as is done by a review on the back cover), Schneider’s story falls a little flat. The Beginning of Everything could be the book you reread to highlight the snappy quotes, but only if you aren’t already familiar with what happens when a witty “different than all the other girls” girl is involved.
By: Tess DeMeyer
Schneider, Robyn. The Beginning of Everything. New York: Katherine Tegen, 2013. Print.