Parents' Guide to

The Beginning of Everything

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Engaging novel shows teens' lives altered by tragedy.

The Beginning of Everything Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 16+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 18+

Inappropriate for teens

I have never written a review but was appalled after reading this book and seeing the ratings for it, especially considering that the only adult rating was by a 13 year old. There is so much unnecessary sexual content in this book that it takes away from what could have been a great story- a teen rediscovering who he really is, characters dealing with tragedy, and the literature and movie references were fun and smart. Here is a non comprehensive list of the sex, etc. in the book- “getting head”, a scene in which a girl is caught giving oral sex, “coming”, references to masturbation (not wanting to be caught in the shower and lube in the bedside table), a scene in which two characters give each other oral sex and then talk about one not being a virgin and the other “saving herself”. Oral sex IS sex. This book makes it seem like it’s not. Too much drinking (I realize that underage drinking isn’t uncommon, but it is done regularly and as a norm). We live in a very troubled culture if we think that this book is appropriate for 13 year olds; unless, of course their parents are discussing the book with them as they read it. As for me, I’ll have my kids skip this book.

This title has:

Too much sex
age 14+

Favorite book!

I am a 13 year old writing on my moms account. I was excited to read this book as soon as I got this and couldn't stop :) It always had me wanting to read more- I read it 2 days straight over the weekend. The end confused me and I still wish they elaborated more on some details. Also there were some inappropriate scenes that I honestly felt weird reading. I am mature though and was fine with it- some others most likely would not have been. Overall, great teen romance that I never wanted to end.

This title has:

Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (2):
Kids say (10):

Ezra's story is poignant, funny, and demonstrates the arbitrary way that high school students segregate themselves into various little like-minded groups. The Beginning of Everything was originally titled Severed Heads, Broken Hearts, and despite the macabre connotations of that original title, it evokes the overarching theme of the story: that tragedy may divide your life, but that doesn't mean it has to define who you are, how you live, who you love. In fact, tragedy is unavoidable, as Ezra knows firsthand, and it should make you reassess and march onward. Of course, Schneider's prose is much cleverer than those platitudes.

Cassidy is one of those quirky "manic pixie dreamgirl" types, but she's so fiercely intelligent you don't mind that she's also encouraging Ezra to ditch his mall garb for a leather jacket. The many allusions to The Great Gatsby and philosophy are sometimes blissfully obvious (the way Cassidy and Ezra live in houses with faraway views of each other) and sometimes subtly intriguing for die-hard Fitzgerald fans. Precocious high school readers will love Schneider's references and the realistic portrayal of a relationship in the last year of high school.

Book Details

  • Author: Robyn Schneider
  • Genre: Contemporary Fiction
  • Topics: Friendship, History
  • Book type: Fiction
  • Publisher: HarperTeen
  • Publication date: August 27, 2013
  • Publisher's recommended age(s): 13 - 17
  • Number of pages: 352
  • Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
  • Last updated: March 11, 2020

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