The Beginning of EverythingFeaturedHot
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 Severed Heads, Broken Hearts 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.
Robyn Schneider's novel underwent a title change from Severed Heads, Broken Hearts to The Beginning of Everything. Both titles I think are fitting for the story within, though I must say I feel a certain affection for the original, which conveys both the humor and the darkness of Schneider's witty, brilliant debut.
Ezra Faulkner theorizes that no one's life really begins until they go through a personal tragedy. This may seem an odd sort of belief, but it makes sense. Tragedy has a way of putting things in perspective. The loss of a family member, of mobility, or of social standing has a way of forcing a person to reevaluate life and decide what is really important. Realizing how tenuous and random life can be, it's crucial to spend what life you have being who you really are and with the people who really get you.
Ezra and Toby were best friends until they were fourteen. That friendship came to a halt after a tourist stood up in the row in front of them on a roller coaster at Disney, the tourist's severed head landing in Toby's arms for the rest of the ride. For the rest of high school, Toby will be that kid with the severed head. Meanwhile, Ezra grew up well, attractive and athletic, and became friends with the popular kids. He partied, dated hot girls, and planned to get a college scholarship for tennis. Then, at a party one night, a driver hit his car, leaving him crippled.
As school starts up for his senior year, the former Homecoming King doesn't feel like he belongs anywhere. He walks with a cane, his girlfriend has hooked up with his former best friend, and his plans for the future are shot. In his life's nadir, he finds a sort of freedom, though. He can now admit to being intelligent and nerdy, rediscover his friendship with Toby, and cultivate a spot with some of the school's nerds. Tragedy serves as a bridge to help him realize how unsatisfying his life up to then truly was.
Schneider's writing is fantastic. First of all, she completely captures an authentic male voice. Ezra never read like a girl to me, but neither was his narrative over the top in an effort to sell his maleness. Secondly, Schneider peppers the narrative with literary references, which, admittedly, might be alienating to some teen readers, but that I loved. Finally, there are the puns. If you do not appreciate finely tuned wordplay, you might find The Beginning of Everything pun-ishing. However, if you deem puns fine humor, you may well laugh your head off (don't worry; Toby will catch it for you).
The romance in The Beginning of Everything falls a bit into manicpixiedreamgirl territory, but it works. Ezra is taken with Cassidy immediately, with her mystery, her intelligence, and her vibrancy. She appreciates his puns and can give them back. They have great chemistry, but she always keeps her walls way way up. Why this worked for me is that Ezra falls in love with her, but in a totally high school first love sort of way, and not in a true love forever sort of way. Also, there's a realization of how little she actually was the perfect girl of his dreams.
What Left Me Wanting More:
The only aspect of the book that left me wanting was the ending. The climax that leads to the spilling of Cassidy's secrets was unexpected, despite the foreshadowing that lead up to it. That scene did not rub me the right way, and just felt a bit out of place in the novel. Plus, Cassidy's sudden opening up didn't seem fitting with what went down either. Without explaining what happened, it's hard to put this clearly, but I found what happened a bit puzzling and melodramatic.
The Final Verdict:
Robyn Schneider's novel is highly intelligent and full of black humor. Fans of John Green, particularly Looking for Alaska and Paper Towns, will most definitely want to read The Beginning of Everything.
This was the second book I’ve read from Robyn Schneider, the first one being Extraordinary Means which won’t come out until May 2015, and I’m really amazed by the way she writes. When I read the ARC of Extraordinary Means last year, I told myself Robyn has to be an auto-buy author for me. This novel just solidified that fact more.
This book tells the story of Ezra Faulkner, one of the most popular boys in their school and how he fell in love with Cassidy Thorpe, the new girl.
This book hit me just right in the feels. Robyn Schneider writes amazingly realistic fiction. It’s very relatable, funny and heartwarming. It’s as if she really understand teenagers, which is really a good thing.
Ezra was a very likeable and relatable character, despite his flaws and I’m not talking about his physical flaws. He might be an asshole but he really was kind and funny most of the time. He’s got an awesome sense of humor, especially the puns. His relationships with most people were unpredictable but once he realized who his true friends were, it solidifies. I also love the fact that he has a dog, Cooper, because I love dogs. I really enjoyed it when it seemed like Cooper was communicating to him with his eyes and Ezra’s trying to voice it into his head with Cooper sounding like Jay Gatsby from The Great Gatsby. And no, I so did not imagine Leo DiCaprio as a dog. Okay… maybe a little…
Cassidy was the kind of girl that could easily be my best friend. I love her to pieces. She was really interesting, especially during the first parts of the book where Ezra got to meet her. She seemed weird and awkward but I think it’s pretty normal for someone who just transferred school. I love her wits and her sense of humor as well. The kind of friendship she had with Toby and the others, including Ezra, was really great.
The other characters weren’t flat. I love that they’re given enough dimension and exposure to not be considered as minor. Toby, Ezra’s best friend, was pretty funny as well. So were Austin, Phoebe and Luke. Their gang actually reminded me of my high school friends. I also love the fact that they’re on the debate team and the fact that they do love to geek out. I loved the Harry Potter and Doctor Who references, and possibly a huge Vampire Weekend one because the band was mentioned twice and the main character shares the same name as the band’s frontman. AND I DO LOVE VAMPIRE WEEKEND.
I loathed Charlotte’s character because I do HATE bitches with all my pure heart. She’s unnerving and I want to poke her eyes out with her own fingernails. Really, props to Robyn for effective writing. As for the other “jocks” most of them were just pretty much dumb assholes which I found actually pretty funny.
The story was really appealing and heartfelt. I read this one in less than 24 hours which wasn’t really surprising because I basically devoured Robyn’s other book. I have to admit though that the ending wasn’t really solid for me but the entirety of the book helped overcome that one. The book was very interesting, relatable, realistic and yes, heartbreaking. I am definitely looking forward to more of Robyn’s works.
This book had gotten a lot of praise and love before I finally picked it up. I was hoping it would live up to all the hype I’d seen. Sadly, it was just an okay read for me. It felt it was trying a little too hard with some twists to be thought-provoking and shocking but they ended up being neither. I did appreciate the pop culture references through the book, those were fun, and as a whole, I enjoyed the group of misfits Ezra joins.
Ezra was a character I really wanted to like but most of the time, I found myself being annoyed with him. I didn’t find he really went through any real growth as a person, more that he stayed the same while things around him changed and because he went from popular to outcast, from cheerleader girlfriend to manic pixie girlfriend, it looked like he’d changed. I just never found him to be a particularly good person or one that I wanted to be invested in. That was in sharp contrast to Toby, who I did like. He was a good person who deserved to be treated better than how Ezra treated him. A lesser person wouldn’t have given Ezra so many chances but Toby, for some reason, wanted to keep being friends with him.
I think part of the reason I had trouble connecting with the characters was that they and the relationships between them lacked depth. They all fit into little boxes and never really did anything to break out of them. It made their actions and their interactions predictable, all the way down to Cassidy’s big mysterious secret past.
I did like the writing style. It was easy to read, humorous, and I thought it flowed well. The pop culture references were so much fun every time they appeared. The whole plot, I did find predictable, even down to the end.
I think I would have liked this book a lot more if there had been more surprises and more depth to the characters. And possibly if I had read it before all the hype started surrounding it so I didn’t go in with such high expectations. It was a decent book, just not as great as I expected with all the hype.
Obviously there were some things that I did enjoy so I'll start there first. I loved the characters. Ezra started out as what seemed like a douche in the beginning, but as the story went on I loved that he found himself.He grew and became such an amazing person. Seriously if he was a real life character, I'd probably have been friends with him. His humor and the way he felt about telling jokes was exactly the way I felt. I have to admit, I connected with him in more ways than one. I also loved Toby. He was also an amazing person. Even after all those years he didn't hold a grudge against Ezra and accepted him back so many times without any question. He was such a great friend.
I also liked the romance. For it to be written in from a male POV I was expecting a lot of crude comments, but Schneider made it obvious that Ezra loved Cassidy. It was a bit insta-lovey in my opinion, but I thought when you're as broken as Ezra was, company is much needed. I also loved that it went against what I normally read and didn't provide the exact Happily Ever After that I had originally been hoping for.
What I didn't like was the plot. It felt like it wasn't going anywhere. Not until the dance night and obviously that was the end. It felt like we were just watching his life day by day to see the few parts between him and Cassidy and that was it. If the book had been mostly like the last 20%, I probably would have loved it a whole lot more.
This book was certainly hyped up, but in my honest opinion, they hyped it up just a little too much. Even still, this coming of age novel is filled with humor and amazing characters. They all had me hooked from the very beginning, even if it was just to see where everyone ended up.
Overall, I give this
I reviewed this because I loved the synposis, the weird first name of Severed heads, broken hearts (before it changed to the Beginning of Everything) intrigued me, and especially since it was on Edelweiss, though I would have eventually bought or got from the library.
Friendship with Toby was good too and hate they went apart for a while but story would have been different. Makes me think about all the little decisions that really effect so much. I adored Toby because he took Ezra right back into his circle without question. He gave him a hard time only in that I love you man ragging kind of way, letting him know by saying the opposite that he accepts him.
Cassidy is the love interest in this one, and she is elusive, seems not to care what others think, just is her own person. I liked her, and wanted to know more about her, and only very little by little did it come out. I think that her and Ezra work together, and though there is a bit of insta-love it seems more at first like physical attraction and seeing a wounded part of each other's soul and connecting that way. So, it worked for me, but I can see how it might not for some others.
I really enjoy the debate group too. What made this awesome was just that everyone was realistic. No one was perfect, and had their strengths and weaknesses. They were more than one dimensional as well, which is awesome.
The ending is so bittersweet, because some of the things I wanted to happen and work out didn't but ultimately we see this huge character growth and development in Ezra that somehow made it all worth it.
Bottom Line: Awesome witty writing style, a bittersweet character driven story.