Ezra Faulker is the Golden Boy. Junior class president, captain of the tennis team. Surrounded by friends, doted on by parents. Driving a BMW, with the Perfect Girl on his arm. Then, after a party where he interrupted his girlfriend having sex with someone else, he got into his car, drove away, and … was blindsided by a jerk who blew through a stop sign. His car? Totaled. His knee? Smashed. His life as he knew it? Gone.
Fast-forward to the start of his senior year. He’s been an invalid all summer, his friends haven’t come to visit, and he knows his place at the Top of the Heap is gone. He’s signed up for a bunch of AP classes and debate, where he runs into his former best friend, Toby. And the new girl, Cassidy.
Before I go much further, in many ways, The Beginning of Everything was John Green lite. It has much of the same feel of a John Green book — privileged kids with their angst and soul-searching — but without much of the philosophy and depth that Green adds to his books. In some ways, that’s a good thing: the kids in this book come off less as pretentious and more as real, interesting teenagers. And I liked that. Even though Ezra’s injury wasn’t life-threatening, it still was a massive change for him, and he had to learn to adapt (or be a jerk about it). Cassidy, fresh from boarding school with a tragic back story of her own, walks that line between free spirit and muse. There are some moments that are classic — their date to the playground, or watching the Disneyland fireworks, or the debate hotel room party — and others that seem forced. And the ending? Not perfect, but also unexpected, which made me happy.
Overall, it’s a good discovery novel, one that I enjoyed reading.
Rated: Moderate for some teenage drinking (not our main character), some off-screen teen sex, and some mild swearing (no f-bombs).