It was through YouTube that I found out about Robyn Schneider and it is mainly her videos that I have been enjoying, especially the ones on her beauty channel--she helped introduce me to the idea of fashion as self-expression rather than trend-following. I have read one of her early books, but The Beginning of Everything, out just last month, somehow feels like her first novel. She was much younger when she wrote the others, and this book is more like what I would have expected from her after watching her colorful, unique personality online.
The Beginning of Everything begins with a short, important scene in Disneyland. On Thunder Mountain, to be specific. Given that I finished reading the book just days before going to the park, I couldn't resist taking a picture of it in Frontierland. I spend around four hours with the book in my purse that morning, even though I knew Thunder Mountain has been closed for months. I was still hoping to get a picture of the book with the mountain in the background, but in the end I settled for a shot by the abandoned mine trail just across the pathway from the ride. Let me tell you, there was no one standing in this corner when I got there, but as soon as I stopped and got my camera out, suddenly other people seemed to find the quiet corner compelling, as well.
Besides the bright yellow jacket, the book itself is also quite attractive. It's also in yellow, with its own roller coaster in blue. (Let me add that neither coaster looks anything like Thunder Mountain, but oh, well.) My Disneyland train (not Thunder Mountain train) pin decided to go for a ride. (What do you think? Should I do a post cataloguing all of my pins?)
But now on to the novel. I have mixed feelings about this book. It was also odd to read because, while I don't know Robyn Schneider, I do watch her videos; the only other person I've watched and then read is Kaleb Nation. So there were things I recognized from her personality or interests. There are some nerdy references scattered around. The Gatsby poodle, naturally, is the best; that dog will go down in history. And while I'm mentioning Gatsby, the lights, I love the lights. The green light is one of my favorite things about The Great Gatsby, so I was happy to see it have some sort of presence here, physically and thematically. Some of my favorite quotes in this book centered around watching light and hope.
As I moved in, I built up expectations. I met certain characters and plot elements and thought I knew where it was all going. And then I finished the book and found out why the UK title is Severed Heads, Broken Hearts. That title is wonderful after you've read the book. It's a heartbreaking sort of discovering-yourself book. Ultimately, it seems to say that your reactions and your choices are always yours, whatever circumstances hit you. And that's a theme to appreciate.