Seventeen-year-old Ezra Faulkner has a theory, that everyone has a tragedy–a single moment that changes your life so completely that everything after is somehow more than before. For his best friend Toby, that moment was riding a roller coaster while a child stood up, got decapitated, and Toby caught the severed head. Since then, Ezra disassociated with Toby because who wanted all that terrible attention and teasing? For Ezra, his moment comes after he feels he’s on top of the world. He was a star tennis player looking to be recruited for college, had a beautiful girlfriend, and was one of the very popular crowd. One night after a party where he finds his girlfriend cheating on him, he gets in his car to go back home and another car smashes into him. Ezra loses his kneecap and can never play tennis again. His friends don’t ever call or check up on him while he’s in the hospital, and he’s utterly alone except for his overprotective and coddling parents. He’s the one that draws the stares and whispering this time. Surprisingly, the one person who comes through for him is his old friend Toby and his enthusiasm for the debate team where Ezra meets the spectacular Cassidy and must learn to navigate his new life with the aftereffects of his personal tragedy. What he doesn’t realize is that everyone just expects him to be the same old Ezra, but what if Ezra doesn’t want to be the same old? What if he wants to be…new Ezra.
Despite the oddity that is this book, I really liked it and it could definitely be a John Green read-a-like even if it doesn’t feel like it ends as happily as some of his do. This is actually a reprint of a popular UK title Severed Heads, Broken Hearts, which I think fits much better than The Beginning of Everything. I expected this book to be more about roller coasters or something. Boy, was I wrong. 🙂 It was quirky, smart, and mostly believable, if you bought into the tennis team being the height of teenage popularity. Still, I caution readers. You might also get annoyed with the literary superiority of the teens in this book; they’re certainly not average teens…they’re very gifted and try to confound you with their intellectual wittiness, but for smartly confident teen readers or apathetic teens, it might be a definite draw. If you’re easily offended or hate uppity types, do not pick up this book. 🙂 I especially liked how Ezra was figuring himself out, mirroring his perfect golden boy, tennis captain image with his crippled, driven, and genuine self that he becomes while with Cassidy and Toby. Perfect coming-of-age title for readers who like The Great Gatsby and a few other post-modern classics.