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Robyn Schneider

One of my favorite new-to-me authors of 2015 was Robyn Schneider.

I was introduced to her books a couple of years ago through her youtube channel, where she posts energetic, funny videos about everything from makeup and fashion to puns and writing.

Last year, I read a both of her YA contemporary novels, The Beginning of Everything and Extraordinary Means.

There were a lot of similarities between these books: they were both compelling and emotion, but peppered with witty dialogue and off-the-wall situations that the narrators and their friends find themselves in (as an example, the working title for The Beginning of Everything was once Severed Heads and Broken Hearts).

I did have a few things that bothered me with her books, however. In both books, we have a male narrator whose female love interest ultimately exists so that he can learn a lesson about himself. Eventually, the protagonist manages to move on from whatever was holding him back, while the love interest gets left behind–they do not get happy endings, or anything resembling them.

That is my biggest complaint about her writing. Astute readers will also note that many of her characters are recycled from one book to the next. Her strength lies more in the tiny worlds that she creates and the events that happen within them, than with character development.

The Beginning of Everything is the story of a boy who suddenly finds himself on the outside after a lifetime of being the golden boy when a car accident ruins his knee, ending his athletic career and damaging the friendships that went along with it. When a new girl moves in down the street, she helps him discover that the friendships he’s missing may not have been as real as he thought, and helps him find a way to stand on his own feet again, even if he has to use a cane.

Extraordinary Means is similarly structured and follows a boy who has been diagnosed with a (fictional) incurable strain of TB, and is sent to a remote facility for young victims of the disease. Angry and refusing to acclimate to his new state of being, it is once again up to the quirky girl at the back of the classroom to bring him out of his shell and show him what life is really about.

Both of these books reminded me of The Perks of Being a Wallflower (the movie; haven’t read the book. Yet). they are both heartbreaking coming of age stories that will rip your heart out and do a jig on them. But I read both of them in just a couple of sittings; I could not put them down. If you are looking for a good contemporary YA read, then I highly recommend both of them.