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  • Writer's pictureKara Chatham

Novel: The Beginning of Everything - Robyn Schneider

The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider is the most allusion filled novel I have ever read. I loved it!

Plot Summary: Ezra Faulkner is a teenage boy who believes that everyone has a tragedy waiting for them. His tragedy happened to him the summer between his junior and senior year of high school. Due to his tragedy, his titles of class president and tennis team captain were given to other individuals in his class. Ezra has always known that he did not really fit in with the circle of friends that he hung around; he thinks because of his “lowered status” in the social world that he can no longer hang around that particular circle. He finds a new circle of friends to hang around. With the help of his new circle and the new girl in school, Ezra finds a place that he can be himself.

The novel was published by HarperCollins Publishing in 2013. It falls in the genre of Realistic Fiction. The novel is written in First-Person narrative from the perspective of the protagonist, Ezra Faulkner. Throughout the novel there is a theme of “self-discovery”. At one point in the novel Ezra claims, “…the worst part was having to go back to school with kids I’d known since kindergarten, and the only thing that had changed was me, because I didn’t know who I was anymore, or who I wanted to be” (Schneider 113). Ezra learns that he is smarter than he allowed himself to believe and that he is not the person that most thought him to be. The tone of the novel is very light. There are certain parts at the beginning of the novel that are a little dark in tone, but as a whole the novel is quite light. The word choice helps bring Ezra Faulkner to life. The words are what you would expect from a secret geek.

According to, the average reading level of this novel is fifth grade. The lowest level shown amongst the formulas used to calculate is third grade and the highest is seventh grade. The content on of the novel would be suitable for anyone who is at least a senior in high school. There are some elements that suggest college-type behavior that could be considered as inappropriate for a reader younger than a high school senior. Because the protagonist is a senior, the content represents what some seniors face during that time of their life – therefore, making it suitable for them.

This novel is packed with allusions and direct references to other things in literature, pop culture, and history. The circle of friends Ezra has joined has something called the “Floating Movie Theater” (Schneider 95). The way the theater is explained makes it sound like it is similar to the speak easies of the 1920s. When Ezra first hangs out with the debate team, one of the members compares Ezra to Edward from Twilight: “You’re asking for it. Pale skin, black clothes, no lunch, and that whole brooding thing? It’s hilarious. You should get some body glitter and go after an unsuspecting freshman” (Schneider 55-56). Along with allusions, the novel is filled with puns. Cassidy, the main female character of the novel, is typically the one who says the puns. Her pun that doubled as an allusion was a reference to something that Ezra talks about at the beginning of the novel. For quite some time, Cassidy referred to Toby as “the catcher on the ride” (Schneider 67). The last literary device that stands out in the novel is personification. Schneider uses these to help enhance the imagery and empathy of the situation: “For everyone’s gaze to follow you through the hallways…” (Schneider 305).

This novel actually has two titles. Schneider initially titled the novelSevered Heads, Broken Hearts – which is still the title for the novel in the United Kingdom. The title that United States knows the novel by is The Beginning of Everything, which comes from a quote by F. Scott Fitzgerald that comes from a letter he wrote: “I fell in love with her courage, her sincerity and her flaming self respect and it’s these things I’d believe in even if the whole world indulged in wild suspicions that she wasn’t all that she should be… I love her and that’s the beginning and end of everything.” This quote is found at the beginning of the novel, after the dedication page.

This is novel for those who feel like a misfit. It does not have to be just a high school misfit. These situations could feel like they are happening in any aspect of life depending on the perspective of the person. This novel does a great job of addressing the importance of being true to one’s self and how to discover who that really is when the mask is taken away. The author has stated that this novel is “a cross between Paper Towns and The Great Gatsby” ( ). So if either of those novels have been enjoyed by the reader, then this would be an excellent choice for the next book to read.

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