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June 25, 2016

Brian Review: The Beginning of Everything

Severed Heads, Broken Hearts
AKA Us Version of The Beginning of Everything

Author: Robyn Schneider
Published On: 9/1/13
Page Count: 288

Synopsis: (Found on Goodreads)
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 career as a jock, 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, fiercely intelligent, and determined to bring Ezra along on her endless adventures.
Together, Ezra and Cassidy discover flash mobs, buried treasure, secret movie screenings, 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 and everything after it has mattered quite a bit, what happens when more misfortune strikes?

Overall Rating: 4.5/5
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and have to say that it really struck a chord with me on several different levels. So much so that I needed to take a few days to process it before I could sit down and write the review.

Cover: 3.5/5
The cover was serviceable, but nothing really extraordinary. I like the duality of the two faces, it has interesting symbolism, but I think there was probably room for some improvement here. I’m also not a big fan of review quotes on the cover.

Characters: 5/5
This book really hinges on the depth of its characters. In a world where you could lose interest in high school drama, you instead find yourself hanging on the end of every chapter wanting to continue.
Ezra: The antagonist of the book, we are told the story through his eyes. Ezra was an amazing tennis player before he was struck by a car and his knee was shattered. Now he has to find his footing again in school, where he feels like he doesn’t fit in with the athletes anymore. Luckily he is able to rekindle an old friendship and spend time with a new crowd in the debate team. I liked Ezra’s character, he could have been much more self pitying and dour about his accident, but makes a genuine effort to get back into the swing of things. He is definitely sad about his loss of mobility, but tries to move on.

Cassidy: An enigma, Cassidy is the new girl in school. She is definitely an oddball, with a style all her own. She joins the debate group after transferring from another school and they all seem to recognize her. Ezra becomes interested in Cassidy fairly quickly and they go on several amazing adventures together. Unfortunately she does have a difficult past, which rears it’s ugly head occasionally to make their wonderful world not as perfect. Cassidy was a fun character to read about, but frustrating sometimes when you couldn’t understand her motives. Like Ezra, she has a lot of depth, and isn’t easily summed up in a few sentences. I felt especially drawn to her character because she reminded me a lot of Ashley. Quiet confidence, refusing to conform, and the ability to effortlessly draw me (or in this case Ezra) into her world with the desire and confidence to try things you never thought you would be able to do. Ezra can’t help but fall head over heels for her, and I understood the feeling completely.

Toby: Ezra’s childhood friend, and the face of the debate team, Toby and Ezra are able to reconnect after several years of having drifted apart. I loved Toby, and I don’t know how anyone wouldn’t. He always seems to be the life of the (nerdy) party, quick witted, and always there when you need him. We should all have a best friend like Toby.

Plot: 4.5 / 5
This book’s plot relied heavily on its characters to move it along, and fortunately they were all up to the task. The setting doesn’t change a whole lot, but everyone in the story felt like they mattered and were integral. When I found myself wondering what was going to happen to some of the secondary characters in the debate group, or why Ezra’s ex-girlfriend seemed like such a terrible person, I knew the book was well written. I got about two thirds of the way through the book and I couldn’t put it down until it was finished. I honestly still don’t know how I feel about how the story ended, but the ride was entertaining, from start to finish.



Quotes:

“And I realized that there's a big difference between deciding to leave and knowing where to go.”

“You have this maddening little smile sometimes, like you've just thought of something incredibly witty but are afraid to say it in case no one gets the joke.”

Robyn Schneider, Severed Heads, Broken Hearts

Until next time,
Brian

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