Book Review – The Beginning of Everything

The Beginning of Everything is the story of Ezra Faulkner’s rise and fall in high school. The tennis team star and anticipated homecoming king sat at THE cafeteria table. He was invited to all of the coolest parties. He dated the coolest girl. He had the coolest friends. And then he didn’t. Then his girlfriend cheated on him, a car accident shattered his leg, and he fell in love with the offbeat new girl, Cassidy Thorpe. Was his life, as he knew it, ending? Or was this the beginning of everything?

Another Amazon Prime Reading freebie, I chose this book because I’ve read the author before, I was in the mood for a young adult read and, well, the cover just looked really cool. I’ve still been plugging along on my big, adult-like book that’s taking me forever to get through, but this Kindle is just pulling me away from that book and putting hundreds of others too easily at my fingertips!

Book 34:
The Beginning of Everything
by Robyn Schneider

Genre:
Young Adult, Contemporary

Published:
August 2013

Synopsis According to Mandi:
Without spoilers, The Beginning of Everything is the story of Ezra Faulkner’s rise and fall in high school. The tennis team star and anticipated homecoming king sat at THE cafeteria table. He was invited to all of the coolest parties. He dated the coolest girl. He had the coolest friends. And then he didn’t. Then his girlfriend cheated on him, a car accident shattered his leg, and he fell in love with the offbeat new girl, Cassidy Thorpe. Was his life, as he knew it, ending? Or was this the beginning of everything?

Favorite Quote(s):

“I still think that everyone’s life, no matter how unremarkable, has a singular tragic encounter after which everything that really matters will happen. That moment is the catalyst—the first step in the equation. But knowing the first step will get you nowhere—it’s what comes after that determines the result.”

– Robyn Schneider, The Beginning of Everything

Awards (based upon my brief research):
Milwaukee County Teen Book Award Nominee (2014)
Lincoln Award Nominee (2015)
Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Young Adult Fiction (2013)

Pages:
357

My Overall Rating:
3.5 – I genuinely feel bad not giving this book a 4, BUT… I gave another of Robyn Schneider’s books, Extraordinary Means, 4 stars, and I have to say I would recommend that one higher than this one. Both were solid reads – great young adult novels, quick and heartfelt. I cried at least once while reading both.

Now let me talk about high school. It’s that four year span where everything matters but nothing actually matters… unless you make it matter. Ezra does this. Mature for his age, he steps out of his popularity and leans into who he truly wants to be. He was prompted, of course, by his circumstances, but I loved the believability of his journey and how even he questioned himself as antagonist or protagonist.

In many ways, I felt like Robyn was telling the story of my high school days, which made this book so fun to read.

So I guess I will sum up this review with these words: great, quick, heartfelt, believable, relatable. But you will still be pulled in quickly and shocked as events unfold. I should probably just bump this up to a 4…

Book Review – Extraordinary Means

Extraordinary Means is about Lane Rosen’s experience as he’s uprooted from his scholarly pursuit upon his diagnosis of modern day “Total Drug Resistant Tuberculosis”. He’s sent away to a sanatorium, Latham House, filled with kids with the same diagnosis who either get better and go home or die in this secluded environment with crazy rules, med sensors and strict regulations. It’s at Latham House that Lane learns important things about himself, what a true friend is, what he wants of whatever future he still has, and how to love. What does it mean for time to run out? What will unfold before then?

Confession: if there’s a Little Free Library on the side of the road, I will stop. I will take a book if I want it. Even if I don’t have one to replace it with. I do keep a stockpile at home of books I’m willing to part with, though, so sometimes I’ll take a book from one LFL and replace it with a book to another LFL. I like to think it’s all one big cycle. This next one was taken from a Little Free Library way out in the boonies of North Door and replaced by another book I had with me. I totally judged it by its cover when I grabbed it and, well… I wasn’t wrong.

Book 31:
Extraordinary Means
by Robyn Schneider

Genre:
Fiction, Young Adult

Published:
May 2015

Synopsis According to Mandi:
Without spoilers, Extraordinary Means is about Lane Rosen’s experience as he’s uprooted from his scholarly pursuit upon his diagnosis of modern day “Total Drug Resistant Tuberculosis”. He’s sent away to a sanatorium, Latham House, filled with kids with the same diagnosis who either get better and go home or die in this secluded environment with crazy rules, med sensors and strict regulations. It’s at Latham House that Lane learns important things about himself, what a true friend is, what he wants of whatever future he still has, and how to love. What does it mean for time to run out? What will unfold before then?

Favorite Quote(s):

“… I’ll keep going. Because that’s all you can do in this world, no matter how strong the current beats against you, or how heavy your burden, or how tragic your love story. You keep going. It took a lot of things to make me realize that. To make me see the path, as opposed to the destination.” 

-Robyn Schneider, Extraordinary Means

Awards (based upon my brief research):
Goodreads Choice Awards Best Historical Fiction
Audie Award for Best Female Narrator

Pages:
324

My Overall Rating:
4 – At times, the inner dialog seemed too childish for the ages of the characters and there was one highly inappropriate scene that did not contribute to the overall plot that I could have done without. However, this story was gold. I cried twice. I fell in love with the characters and felt like I was one of their gang. I rooted something fierce for them and loved how the story turned out – the good and bad parts of it – because it all seemed so believable despite the fact that there is no such thing as the illness they were all fighting.