Annika’s Bookshelf

This is a new feature of the Centereach Cross Currents Newspaper! It is our hope that each month we will publish a book review. Every novel will have been read and discussed by our writers, and recommended for all audiences. We hope to inspire readers to explore a wide variety of literature with this segment. Enjoy! – Annika



Isabella Elshafei – The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider

Robyn Schneider is the best-selling author of Extraordinary Means, Invisible Ghost, and The Beginning of Everything. Schneider is working on a new book called You Don’t Live Here. Robyn is a graduate from Columbia University, where she majored in creative writing. She is also a graduate from the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. She also earned a Master’s Degree in Bioethics. Schneider grew up in Irvine, California, but today she lives in Los Angeles, California. The Beginning of Everything won many awards for its tragically engrossing romance. It is a teen romance story about love and pain of the past. It tells the story of two teenagers both getting through “their tragedies” and then meeting each other where their lives change forever. 

“Everyone’s Life, no matter how unremarkable, has a moment when it will become extraordinary, a single encounter after everything that matters will happen.” In the book the main character Ezra Faulkner once was class president, team captain of the tennis team, and was very popular throughout Eastwood High. Then his girlfriend cheated on him at a party, and he got into a brutal and callous car accident where he permanently damaged his leg. After that night, he couldn’t play tennis anymore. This obliterated his popularity and all of his friends turned into acquaintances. One day Ezra meets the new, unconventionally “Pretty Girl,” Cassidy Thorpe. Ezra had lost his confidence and dignity at that point, but Cassidy changes that.

Cassidy is an outgoing, very lovable person. She sees people for their true selves instead of just reading the chapter she walks in on. She gets to know people before the judgements and looks. She puts her emotions aside, and puts others first. She has a hard time talking about her feelings and rarely ever tells anyone anything. She also sees the things that people try to keep hidden. She’s been through it all and really sees the hurt people. She moved from Barrows School, where she quit the debate team after being undefeated for her whole course; no one knew why. Throughout the book the narrator tells about her and Ezra’s relationship and how she randomly has a falling out and stops talking to Ezra and, for a while, stops going to school.

One thing changes her forever when she finds out the truth about her past which affects her life living, talking and seeing Ezra. Ezra always says how everyone has their own tragedies, but Cassidy believes “We have all been fooled into believing in people who are entirely imaginary, made-up prisoners in a hypothetical panopticon. But the point isn’t whether or not you believe in imaginary people; it’s whether or not you want to.” Ezra says at the end of the book, “To Cassidy, the panopticon wasn’t a metaphor. It was the greatest failing on everything she was, a prison she had built for herself out of an inability to appear anything less than perfect. And so she ghosted on, in relentless pursuit of escape, not from society, but from herself. She would always be confined by what everyone expected of her because she was too afraid and too unwilling to correct our imperfect imaginings.” Ezra has a realization of what Cassidy and him really mean, they both learn so much about their own tragedies and about their future. They will never forget each other because of this haunting part of their life, it’s lunatic how one day can impact a person forever.

Many book critics loved the book and had a lot to say. One review from Kirkus stated, “Here are teens who could easily trade barbs and double-entendres with the characters that fill John Green’s novels…subtle turns of phrase  make reading and rereading this novel a delight.” Another review from The Booklist says, “This thought-provoking novel about smart kids doing interesting things will resonate with the John Green contingent, as it is tinged with sadness, high jinks, wry humor and philosophical pondering in equal measures.” The New York Times also stated, “An endearing book filled with similarly touching little moments and plenty of snappy dialogue”.