After shattering his leg in a car accident the summer before his senior year of high school, former varsity tennis star Ezra Faulkner is forced to take a step back from living on the ledge of a life rife with drunken parties, shallow girls and his own excessive popularity. Abandoned by his supposed friends and teammates while recuperating, Ezra reverts to his former, unpopular self while trying to rekindle both old desires and forgotten friendships. When the unorthodoxly beautiful and witty Cassidy Thorpe transfers to Ezra’s sheltered high school, she opens up a whole new world of possibility for Ezra, one filled with genuine conversations, the debate team, really bad puns and the lunch table of misfit kids.

As his dream girl, Cassidy becomes the catalyst for all of Ezra’s positive life changes, but in his idolizing, Ezra begins to neglect her humanity, ignore her cryptically tragic past and obscure her forewarned shortcomings. The wiser and more melodramatic Cassidy gradually morphs into a cautionary example of the dream girl archetype, one that shows the full extent of her power as a force for both good and bad, and Ezra starts to realize that maybe the only validation he needs is from himself.

In her first young adult novel penned under her own name (she wrote the middle grade Knightley Academy series under her pseudonym, Violet Haberdasher), actress and videoblogger Robyn Schneider collects her distilled wisdom on finding and being true to oneself, even when that discovery stems from loss. Though The Beginning of Everything centers around Ezra, Schneider shares that “it’s a totally embellished and wildly unfaithful adaptation of eight years of my life condensed into eight months of someone else’s.”

The Beginning of Everything gets off to a slow start, but as Ezra’s narration builds pace, it begins skipping around chronologically and careening through a year of high school drama. Even with all that build-up, the story comes to an end similar to Ezra’s car crash—abruptly and with only slight resolution. Nevertheless, readers will find The Beginning of Everything to be a clever and comical exploration into high school life on both sides of the popularity divide.

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