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Best YA of 2013: 'The Beginning of Everything' by Robyn Schneider

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'The Beginning of Everything' by Robyn Schneider

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This review is part of a recap of this reviewer's picks for the Best YA Books of 2013.

One of this year’s wittiest, most engaging coming-of-age stories is The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider.

The book starts with one of the most horrific things imaginable happening at the Happiest Place on Earth. That is, a decapitation on a roller coaster at Disneyland.

Yes. Really.

The tragedy marks the beginning of Ezra Faulkner’s story of woe and romance, in which he goes from A-lister on the tennis team to a high school senior with a shattered leg and no sense of self worth. The arrival of new girl Cassidy Thorpe and a rekindled friendship with a childhood buddy is about to change everything for him.

Schneider perfectly captures the angst and anxieties of high school, especially when faced with uncertainties about social status and figuring out where you fit in after you thought you’d already figured it out.

The Beginning of Everything captures all the beautiful moments of a perfectly tuned coming-of-age story in the same vein as John Green, J.D. Salinger, or Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower. It’s a new classic for today’s readers — one that teens will adore, and older readers will cherish for the timeless experiences Schneider so lovingly and perfectly captures.

Perhaps the only real shortcoming is the publisher’s decision to change the title of the book from its original and much more unique Severed Heads, Broken Hearts (this title lives on in the U.K. edition) to the ever-so-bland and generic title The Beginning of Everything.

Regardless of the title change, this book is worth every page and then some.

The Beginning of Everything is in stores now. Here is the official synopsis:

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.

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