I very literally just finished reading “The Beginning of Everything” by Robyn Schneider and I can honestly say that I have a lot of mixed feelings about this books. I chose it for our Breakfast Book Club because of its positive reviews and awards. Mostly I chose the book because of its tag line “Everyone gets a tragedy.” The concept of every person having their own tragedy and learning to recover from said tragedy being the basis for our lives seems endearing. We all fight our own battles and we all handle them differently.
You will learn that I do not completely believe in bad reviews. Don’t get me wrong, there are books that I absolutely hate. However, even within those hated stories, I can find good writing or interesting characters. I also do not believe in blatant statements like ” I loved that book” or “I hated that book;” be specific. So these are my specifics on “The Beginning of Everything.”
What I Loved:
I loved the debate team characters. As a speech and debate coach, I can tell you that these teenagers were spot on. Schneider wrote them to be the most interesting individuals within the book. They were smart, witty, and interestingly nerdy in a way that made individuality a moral stance. I feel like Ezra’s journey was to discover who he truly was when he broke free of the conformity. If you looked closely, these were the students that were the true elite; they had discovered who they were as individuals and they embraced the parts that made them “special.” Schneider did a great job at showing how even these small high school cliques continue to have their own hierarchy and social drama.
I also loved the way that Schneider portrayed Ezra and Toby’s relationship. As teenagers mature into high school many friendships split a part for very superficial reasons. I would have loved it if this book was more centrally focused on how these two characters rekindled their friendship as opposed to the pseudo-love story of Ezra and Cassidy.
What I hated:
I hated the “social elite.” While I will admit that these types of teens can be complete tools when it comes to the stereotypical high school experience, I did not like how Schneider painted them to be mindless drones. I felt that she overdid the stupidity of the jocks and the desperate need for popularity within Charlotte’s character. Sometimes when I read YA lit, I am left wondering about the writer’s personal high school experience. I would guess that Schneider was part of the debate team and did not have a lot of positive experiences with the “it” crowd. No matter their faults, these types of teenagers are still real people, with real dreams, and souls. They are deeper than she let on.
I also had a lot of qualms with how the mystery unraveled. I don’t want to release any spoilers for those of you who haven’t read the book, but I felt like the entire mystery itself was crap. There were too many holes, too many parts that were unrealistic coincidences, and in the end too many concepts that did not make sense in regards to basic human nature. I felt like I was constantly waiting for something awesome to happen and then left thoroughly disappointed.
I am sure I could go on about a number of small details that “erked” me, but it all boils down to the fact that this book did not live up to its hype. I would not dissuade someone from reading it (it is completely against my nature to dissuade someone from reading anything) but it won’t go high on my bookshelf of recommendations. All in all, it could have been A LOT better.
Post from June 3, 2015 via Rathgeber Rumination