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Publisher's Summary

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 and fiercely intelligent.

Together, Ezra and Cassidy discover flash mobs, buried treasure, and a poodle that might just be the reincarnation of Jay Gatsby. 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, 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.

©2013 Robyn Schneider (P)2013 HarperCollins Publishers

What members say

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Keep Looking...

You know how when you search and/or purchase a book and the recommendations display at the bottom. Well, this one has been popping up for months, maybe even a year, and my instinct was to ignore it. Always go with your gut.

This book wasn't horrible and I didn't return it, but I wish I hadn't spent my credit on it. The author tried to put a twist on it with newly fallen popular boy navigating "nerd" territory after being shunned for reasons beyond his control. Enter new girl, liking him as he is and the inevitable twist. Predictable time waster, but not worthy of purchase. Many clever YA titles abound, skip this one.

One last thing...the female voices are cringeworthy. If you're still interested, do yourself a favor and listen to the entire sample.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

The Beginning of Everything Audio Book Review

Would you listen to The Beginning of Everything again? Why?

“Sometimes I think that everyone has a tragedy waiting for them, that the people buying milk in their pajamas or picking their noses at stoplights could be only moments away from disaster. That everyone’s life, no matter how unremarkable, has a moment when it will become extraordinary-a single encounter after which everything that really matters will happen..”

Ezra believes that within everyone’s life a tragedy lies waiting, and that only after said tragedy occurs does one’s life truly begin. Or, maybe, that is just how he wants to see the world since tragedy has befallen the once “golden boy” of Eastwood high school, a fictional school in a fictional Orange County town that seems very much like the Irvine I grew up close by to. Ezra’s tragedy changes his life drastically, and it is now up to him to decide how it changes him within that life.

This is more than the typical coming-of-age story, and it is more than the young adult label may suggest, this is a book about living at any age, about loss and love, and about figuring out who you are deep down inside, and not just who you are to the world around you. It will most likely be categorized on the “if you like John Green” shelf, which is not a wrong summation, but I think it is unique in its voice, style and character, as well.

My initial love for this book came to me because of location. The setting, though fictionally named, is the area of Southern California that I came of age in. I know this place, and the inhabitants that live and grow there. I know the streets and the landmarks, the sound of the Disneyland fireworks, the fear of coyotes and the wealth backed right up to the migrant worker groves. I also know the pressure of the schools and students who live there, and the perceptions that so many try to live up to, or at least survive within.

This book reads immediate, as if it was written yesterday, with nods to songs and bands, fads and technology. There are silent flash mobs, Doctor Who references, pep rallys to Vampire Weekend and make-out sessions to Bon Iver songs. And, there are philosophy and literary references that delight the book geek in me. The book overflows in pop culture in just the way that I adore.

The characters are the kind that creep in and stick to my heart, especially Ezra and Toby. I loved their friendship, the complexities and ebb and flow that often happens to friends who meet in childhood and drift during adolescence. Theirs was my favorite relationship, and I was glad to see it transcend throughout the span of the story. I was also partial to Ezra and his dog, Cooper, very much a “boy and his dog” emotional tug that had me literally in tears at a certain point. I also loved that Ezra and Cooper had a Nick and Jay Gatsby relationship (loved The Great Gatsby references).

Cassidy, the girl who comes into Ezra’s life at the post-tragedy turning point was a tough one for me. I wanted to like her, I wanted her to come around in the end and be something more for herself, and for Ezra, but she never did. There were shades of the “manic pixie girl” to her (I vehemently hate that term though), and at times she struck me as a teenage version of Clementine (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), except not as likable, to me. Though, I will say that the wanting to like her and not ever getting there was unique, and in some ways I welcomed it. She was part of Ezra’s journey, and not every part of our epic life journeys include people who stick and stay forever.

My two complaints are that I wish the author had stuck to the initial title of the book, Severed Heads, Broken Hearts, which I think fit so much more and has a more unique punch to it. Also, the narrator, Dan John Miller, while fabulous as Ezra, was terrible when doing the girl’s voices. It came across as a bad parody of a 1980′s Valley Girl and was often times distracting to the female dialogue.

Beyond these minor complaints, I loved the book, the characters, the references, the setting, and the relationships. Ezra and Toby are now part of my list of favorite fictional characters, and Cooper, on a new list of favorite fictional dogs.

“Oscar Wilde once said that to live is the rarest thing in the world, because most people just exist, and that’s all. I don’t know if he’s right, but I do know that I spend a long time existing, and now, I intend to live.”

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Melissa
  • Medford, OR, United States
  • 09-10-13

Skippable

What would have made The Beginning of Everything better?

A somewhat less predictable plot, perhaps? Or maybe a slightly more likable love interest. Generally I think you're supposed to be rooting for the couple to be together, not hoping the girl would be ravaged by Coyotes.

What could Robyn Schneider have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

It really started strong, Ezra's thoughts on how everyone has their own tragedy and the story of his best friends, and his own, and well into the first few chapters I really was enjoying it, but then it just became a predictable Coming of Age story.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Dan John Miller?

Personally I'm not a big fan of male narrators, so I can't name any off the top of my head. He did fine with the male voices, but the female voices were pretty rough to listen to. But it could also be that I couldn't get into the story enough to ignore it.

What character would you cut from The Beginning of Everything?

Cassidy. I know that she is a main character, but I really did not care for her. Her personality was too uppity, judgmental and condescending.

Any additional comments?

I really wanted to like this book, it was suggested as an 'If you liked The Fault in Our Stars -- You'll like this' and I felt this was a poor imitation of John Green. Striving for a touching, intellectual story but it just fell short.

While I didn't absolutely hate the story, it was an evenings entertainment, I rather wish I hadn't opted to get this one.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • JTony
  • SAN FRANCISCO, CA, United States
  • 09-06-13

Loathing and Annoyance

What disappointed you about The Beginning of Everything?

I pretty seriously hated this book. Loathed it actually. I really only finished it so that I could write a scathing review because I really hated it that much.

The characters are barely more than cardboard cutouts made from restroom gender icons with pithy words scrawled on them in red sharpie. Not a lot of substance but indicators as to what we're supposed to think of them. I didn't think much of them, I can tell you that. They are shallow, immature, emotionally crippled and selfish with little to no care about any of the other characters. I hated them all.

Very little happens in the plot. Basically there is only one real event in the whole book, followed by one fake event later on that is emotionally way more stomach turning than the first one. Neither really ended up making me care about the characters, but the second one made me hate them.

I got this book in order to give me something like John Green, and it has been compared to his works a lot. If you like John Green, don't read this. This is John Green as interpreted by the CW and the writers of the film "Clueless". Also, if you hate John Green, you will also want to avoid reading this. It echoes JG just enough to make it really, really annoying.

I really wanted it to be fun and emotionally charged. It wasn't. It was painful and emotionally stunted and not worth your time.

What do you think your next listen will be?

I don't know but I'll probably avoid YA for a book or two.

What didn’t you like about Dan John Miller’s performance?

It didn't help that I read the audio version. The reader, Dan John Miller, was unconvincing as a teen boy, and annoying as a teen girl (picture Frank Zappa trying to do the Valley Girl voice in the 80's song instead of his daughter, Moon Unit). I wanted to reach out and slap my iPhone each time he switched genders.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

It was short.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Bad Narrator

I read this book in highschool and enjoyed it, but this narrator is awful. The way he voices females is annoying, and he doesn't convey a lot of emotion. It's hard for me to finish the book because of him.

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Voices carry

The storyline here left a lot lacking. To be fair, I am not sure if it was the story or the narrator's performance that was worse. His performance of the female characters was like nails on a chalkboard. It sounded like bad female impersonators, which technically, I guess it was.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Captivating

I really like stories like these, where most of the book is about the quirky characters. I guess I want to be like them

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Growing up pains

A rather brilliant passages story. A new tweak on growing up .
It was not until the end that you see the adults stepping out of the....what? Their out skins.....I liked the book. Read it straight through in one day. There was only one thing I didn't care for and perhaps could have made it better had the female voices been played by a female. It was read well, but at a certain point I realized the females sounded like a male impersonating a girl. Am I being too picky? I suppose so since I listen the whole day to it....enjoy!

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

DJM, your rendition of a teenage girl's voice is cringeworthy and possibly somewhat offensive.

I don't know what kind of direction these audiobook narrators receive, but damn I can't take the story seriously the way this guy does certain characters. It's so bad it's great, honestly.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Jami
  • VICTOR, NY, United States
  • 12-21-15

Average Story

This was one of those books where I had to read the whole thing before I could appreciate it. I felt that the book was a bit slow and not much happened; there was a twist at the end that I enjoyed and I liked the ending. I had been thinking it was just a two star rating but looking at it as a whole I enjoyed it. The narrator was good but it may have been better with the addition of s female narrator for the female voices.