I’ve only read two books by Robyn Schneider, but I’m already sensing a formula!
Robyn Schneider writes contemporary YA romances with heart. I really enjoyed both The Beginning of Everything and Extraordinary Means, and I’m looking forward to reading her upcoming book, Invisible Ghosts. I imagine it will follow this formula:
Begin with a personal tragedy.
In The Beginning of Everything, Ezra is living in the aftermath of his own personal tragedy. He had planned his life around earning a tennis scholarship, but one car accident leaves him with a bum leg and no future.
Extraordinary Means begins with Lane’s first day at a boarding school/quarantine for tuberculosis. He had aspired to be valedictorian and apply to Stanford, but those dreams are put on indefinite hold due to his illness.
Add some quirky friends…
Without the ability to play tennis, Ezra starts sitting with his old friend Toby at lunch. Toby’s personal tragedy actually starts out The Beginning of Everything and is the reason for the novel’s original title, Severed Heads and Broken Hearts: he’s infamous for catching a severed head on a Disneyland ride and earning free Disney for life.
Lane’s new group of friends in Extraordinary Means rebel against the strict food rules by making food sculptures and they sneak off-campus to get butterbeer lattes at Starbucks. They sneak in all kinds of contraband, set up a rogue wifi in the library, and one of them is writing songs for a ukulele album.
And a quirky girlfriend.
Cassidy from The Beginning of Everything is the new girl at school, and she’s different from anyone Ezra knows. She’s a bit mysterious about her personal life, but she also doesn’t treat Ezra like he’s something less because of his injury.
Sadie from Extraordinary Means gets to narrate her own chapters, and she talks about how at Latham House she gets to be her true quirky self – if she returned to regular school, she would likely be defined by her illness. She also has enjoys taking strange photos of her friends and turning them into strange Photoshopped illusions.
Despite the personal tragedies, love blooms…
The middle part of both books is a cute, somewhat conventional love story. I’m not a huge fan of romance, so the cuteness of the couples is almost sickening. Luckily (for me) it doesn’t last too long.
End with another tragedy.
I won’t reveal any spoilers, but Robyn Schneider’s books do not end with a “happily ever after.” The endings of both books mirror events from the beginning. One has a reveal of a personal tragedy that shows another side of the first “personal tragedy,” while the other was fairly expected given the topic.
I will say, that there is a little ray of hope at the end of each book. Despite having loved and lost, both Ezra and Lane can see the positive things they learned from their relationships and can move forward in their lives with more perspective and maturity.