Plot: Ezra Faulkner was once the golden boy: tennis champ, student body president, beloved by all. But one night, less than a week before being crowned homecoming king, his girlfriend cheated in him and he was in an accident that left him permanently injured. Upon his return to school, he must figure out what is truly important to him, who his friends are and untangle his feelings for the mysterious new girl, Cassidy Thorpe.
This review was based on an ARC received at BEA 2013.
A plot summary doesn’t do this book justice. Schneider has a rare, wicked wit. I was giggling from page one… then feeling a bit guilty about because someone lost their head, literally, but not being able to stop laughing anyways. Honestly, if I had to compare this book to anything, it would be to John Green novels in particular Looking for Alaska and Paper Towns. Like those two books, The Beginning of Everything is about finding yourself and learning to understand other people – especially that wild, adventurous girl you admire – more complexly. Both authors are hilariously fun, even in the midst of tragedy, and have a fascination with literature and language. (They also both, incidentally, have YouTube channels but that is neither here nor there.)
The central premise of the novel is the tragedies that define, or at least change, people’s lives. For Ezra it is his accident. But Schneider simultaneously questions Ezra’s certainty that people are defined by these tragedies, rather than their own actions and decisions. She also explores the difference between the self and the person that others see. The Great Gatsby and Foucault’s panopticon are also important to the novel… I will never be able to escape these two works, no matter how far I get from grad school. 😛
But where Schneider completely wins me over is with word games and sheer nerdiness. She uses creative and unique insults like douche canoodler, explores lexical gaps (English does need a word to translate the German word Backpfeifengesicht, a face that cries out for a fist), makes math metaphors (my favorite is her exploration of the word invalid see p. 13) and makes verbs out of words like mullet.
For those of you who are confused, this novel used to be known as Severed Heads, Broken Hearts (and still is in the UK, I believe). I preferred the quirkiness of the original title, but what do I know about marketing?
The Beginning of Everything will be released in September 2013. Be sure to check it out.