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The Beginning of Everything Hardcover – August 27, 2013
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From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-Ezra Faulkner believes that everyone has a tragedy waiting to happen that will be their life-changing moment. In the summer before seventh grade, his best friend, Toby, had his moment when he inadvertently caught the severed head of a boy who was decapitated on a ride in Disneyland. Ezra ended his friendship with Toby after that. Now 17, Ezra encounters his own tragic watershed event: he finds his girlfriend cheating on him and then has a car accident that ends his tennis career. He returns to school for his last year a broken boy who has shunned his jock friends and just wants to make it through life unnoticed. By reconnecting with Toby and developing a relationship with Cassidy, a new girl who has a secretive past and home life, Ezra gets the chance to remake himself into someone who lives rather than just exists. Though Ezra's old friends are depicted as stereotypes, they help to emphasize the attributes of his new friends, who are quirky, smart, and funny. This is a wonderfully told story. The dialogue moves the plot along at a fast pace, and Ezra, with all his flaws, is a character to whom readers can relate. Teens won't want to put this one down until the mystery of Cassidy is unraveled at the end.-Elizabeth Kahn, Patrick F. Taylor Science & Technology Academy, Jefferson, LAα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
*Starred Review* The way Ezra Faulkner sees it, everyone gets one great tragedy, after which life should roll on predictably. His middle-school best friend, Toby, gets his when a roller-coaster accident brands him a social misfit, and Ezra gets his a week before junior prom, when he, the tennis star and class president shoo-in, is injured by a distracted driver. When senior year begins, Ezra and his destroyed leg slide easily into a new social circle, eschewing the surface attempts of former friends to stay connected and instead joining Toby on the debate team. That’s where he meets Cassidy, a beguiling transfer student who helps Ezra discover his new self. To Ezra, it’s an idyllic relationship, so when it collapses, his worldview collapses, too—hadn’t he just recovered from his one great tragedy? Throughout, Ezra reads The Great Gatsby and alludes to parallels found in the classic novel. His story of self-discovery and reinvention is told in past tense, providing just enough distance for bits of reflection and subtle foreshadowing, which serve to enrich characters and build suspense. This thought-provoking novel about smart kids doing interesting things will resonate with the John Green contingent, as it is tinged with sadness, high jinks, wry humor, and philosophical pondering in equal measures. Grades 8-11. --Heather Booth
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The characters are interesting and the story is full of witty dialogs and is generally well developed and for sure not trivial. The writing style of Ms Schneider is quite good which is impressing since this is her first book.
Overall the book will be to the taste of people who liked Hopeless by Colleen Hoover or The perks of being a wallflower. One may say that The Beginning of Everything is a book which is closer to The Fault in Our Stars by John Green than to Thoughtless series by SC Stephens (the latter is all about blushing and lip-biting...).
The book is not exactly happy end romance. It is more about the problems that a young adult encounters and the decisions one may need to take if to become a decent person.
All in all, if you seek for an interesting and entertaining book for young adults, this one is a good choice and you will not regret reading it. It may be even more interesting to young people than I can imagine (being 36 years old). Still a good read for the old dogs.
John Green books are popular because he doesn’t try to imitate kids in his characters. He doesn’t really try to drop in pop culture references he doesn’t understand or make any apologies for having characters who are essentially mini-adults. In this book, I do feel she tried to do that, and although I’m not a teenager, I feel it was the greatest problem of the book. But in making these stereotypes and a main character who understands how pathetic it was to “rule the school” – we also realize how pathetic it is to judge those who rule the school. In many ways, I would say I didn’t particularly like any of the characters, but enjoyed the book as a whole. It was a quick read with an interesting message at the end that made sense.
The Beginning of Everything reminded me a lot of how John Green writes. It's witty, smart, and at times, scathing. People who spend a lot of time with teenagers will realize that this is exactly how they act. I loved the characters, the bumbling insecurity, the sweet, figuring-it-out moments. The characters were awesome.
I mostly enjoyed the story line. I'll admit, the plot twist surprised me. I thought I had it all figured out and I was wrong. Yay for that. What I didn't like was how long we waited for the reveal, and how it left me twisting in the wind. There wasn't enough substance at the end of the book to leave me satisfied. The reveal was great...the end was...lonely. I get that not all books have a happy ending, and this one wasn't necessarily unhappy, I just wanted more substance, more explanation, and more digging into Cassidy's life. We spend 300+ pages with her, and at the end she's still a mystery, which left me frustrated.
Over all, this book is a great, surprising read. I'd pick up Schneider's other novels.
I liked that the story is a first person account told by the main character, like a memoir, or a really long journal entry. But that's about all I liked. The characters were simple and the plot was very predictable. One of those would have been ok but the combination together made for an uneventful story in which I kept reading expecting and hoping that SOMETHING would happen but nothing ever really did. And the relationships between characters and the complexity of the characters didn't really build over time so I didn't really care for any of them or attach to anyone in the story. It would have helped to have spent more time on that rather than moving slowly forward with an overly explanatory and overly simplified plot.