Publisher: Katherine Tegen
I’m not going to lie, when I first picked up The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider, the retrospective first person point of view threw me in its unusualness. But, after a few chapters, once I was more acclimated, the wit and heart of the lyrical writing truly pulled me in, and I felt silly for not seeing it right away.
Ezra Faulkner is forced into the kind of self-discovery we all hope to have, but that many of us are too afraid to really attempt. After a car accident leaves the once top tennis player permanently benched with a seriously damaged knee, he no longer fits in with his athlete friends. Yet, something many would see as totally negative, for Ezra is ultimately more bittersweet. For the first time, Ezra is able to see how superficial and unsupportive the people he called his friends really were. Open to forging new friendships, Ezra meets new girl Cassidy Thorpe and reunites with his childhood best friend, whose unusual tragedy years early cemented him on the unpopular list, ultimately separating him from Ezra. Surrounded by people who actually care about and challenge him for the first time, Ezra is finally asked what he wants, who he is, and most importantly who he wants to be. Discovering the answers to these questions propels Ezra in a completely different direction than he was headed before, this time, on his own terms.
The Beginning of Everything is a coming of age story, unrivaled in quality of storytelling by any of its contemporaries. Schneider beautifully captures and represents a guy on the peak of major self-discovery, and the people who help him along the ride. While there is no specific plot focus, or major tension that needs to be solved, the clear focus on Ezra and his search to figure himself out never feels stagnant, or leaves you feeling as though there is not a specific direction to the story. The writing is beautifully lyrical, and flows so perfectly that major plot points, puzzles, and bits of foreshadowing are laid, but they’re so casually and cleverly included that you absorb them in the same way you do every other detail. My favorite part of the novel is how everyone is fallible. It is their imperfections – their pasts, their secrets, and insecurities, which act as the catalyst, which brings the characters together, or in some cases, pulls them apart. Ezra’s friendships, and especially his relationship with Cassidy, are some of the most honest representations of how difficult a relationship can be, that I have seen in a long time.
The Beginning of Everything is a must read. It will make you laugh with its sharp wit, cry with the injustice of Ezra's past and current circumstance, and most importantly you will never want to reach the last page because leaving Ezra's world is almost a painful for the reader, as walking without a cane is for Ezra. I absolutely loved this book.
*** I received a copy of this novel from the publisher to read and honestly review. I was in no way compensated.