Severed Heads, Broken Hearts: 'The Beginning of Everything' by Robyn Schneider
Sometimes it’s best to start a book without knowing anything about it. That was how I read Robyn Schneider’s The Beginning of Everything…I heard it was good, saw a brightly colored cover and thought, “Well, this looks like a fun read.” Within the first few pages, I was already thinking, “Whoa, so maybe this isn’t quite the goofy/cute book I thought it would be.”
Not that that’s a bad thing, of course! I was pleasantly surprised by how deep and emotionally affecting (while still hilarious) The Beginning of Everything was. As usual, I’ll try to avoid giving away any big spoilers while discussing the plot, but no guarantees! We are living on the edge over here, guys. I can’t be tamed, which is just one of the many things I have in common with Miley Cyrus. Anyway, about the book…The Beginning of Everything follows Ezra Faulkner, formerly the most popular guy at his high school. But when an accident leaves him unable to play tennis, his big dude on campus reputation is threatened and he realizes he doesn’t have much of a connection with his popular friends.
This leads him to start hanging out with his former BFF Toby and Toby’s ragtag group of nerdy-cool kids. Instead of doing keg stands at parties, they spend their time competing on the debate team, sneaking into the school to host movie screenings and making hipster references that would go way over the heads of Ezra’s tennis buddies. And then there’s Cassidy Thorpe, the new girl at school who’s interesting, beautiful and totally different than anyone Ezra’s ever known. She teaches him weird German words, sneaks him into college classes and generally opens him up to a life beyond keggers.
Lest you think this just sounds like another Manic Pixie Dream Girl story (sidenote: I’d love it if we could just retire that term forever, actually), think again. As Robyn Schneider herself describes it on her website, The Beginning of Everything is “a cautionary tale about how it is never wise to become someone’s manic pixie dream girl, rather than another entry into that genre of literature.” The more we learn about Cassidy, the more we see that her fun and quirky personality may actually hide a whole lot more.
The Beginning of Everything is full of so many of my favorite things: pop culture references, plenty of romance, realistic friendships, high school bitchiness and tons of drama. I read the whole book in one day–not to brag, but I was also lounging on a dock beside a lake, which is really the ideal reading setting. But even if you can’t read this book next to a body of water, I’m pretty sure you’ll get just as obsessed with it as I did. I loved it, and I’m already excited for Robyn Schneider’s next book.
-This is the second YA book I’ve read this year that features the Mary Oliver line, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” Mary Oliver, you’re having the best year ever!
-If you’re living in the UK, you might be thinking, “Hmm, I read a book that sounds EXACTLY like that, but with a different title.” You’re right! The Beginning of Everything was released as Severed Heads, Broken Hearts in the UK. So I guess it’s sort of like the chips/fries and biscuits/cookies things, right? Totally.
–TBoE has been compared to John Green (specifically Paper Towns), and I can definitely see it. If you’re a fan of John Green’s books (and you are, right?), then you’ll probably love The Beginning of Everything!
-If you like The Beginning of Everything, be sure to check out Robyn Schneider’s YouTube channel!
What about you guys? Have you read The Beginning of Everything? Let me know in the comments! And, as always, I love to hear your suggestions for books to feature in Young Adult Education. Leave a comment, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on Twitter @KerryAnn.