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Students react to Schneider’s book talk

Freshman+Alyssa+Higdon+meets+Schneider+after+the+book+talk+to+get+Schneider%27s+autograph.
Freshman Alyssa Higdon meets Schneider after the book talk to get Schneider's autograph.

Freshman Alyssa Higdon meets Schneider after the book talk to get Schneider's autograph.

Hannah Young

Hannah Young

Freshman Alyssa Higdon meets Schneider after the book talk to get Schneider's autograph.

Hannah Young, Staff Writer

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On Sept. 17, author Robyn Schneider, who wrote Carlmont’s all-school summer reading book, visited the school to speak about her writing experience and autograph students’ copies of her novel.

The idea for “The Beginning of Everything” began in the mind of Schneider while she attended medical school at the University of Pennsylvania.

“I never thought I was going to be a writer. It never occurred to me. Looking back, it’s so ridiculous that I didn’t realize my passion for writing wasn’t just a hobby,” said Schneider.

Schneider first started writing at age 13 when she drew inspiration from award-winning British author J. K. Rowling to write Harry Potter fanfiction.

Pressured by her family and hometown, Schneider decided to study medicine. Although she immediately realized it was not her true calling, Schneider completed a Masters of Bioethics, during which she simultaneously explored writing as a full-time passion and part-time career.

“I sold [my first children’s book] under a pen name right as I was applying to medical school. I looked at what I had done and thought ‘Oh no, now I have these two lives and I don’t know how to fix it,'” said Schneider. “I had this offer to publish the next book in the series, and then I had this admittance to medical school that I had worked so hard for, and I didn’t know what to choose.”

Eventually, Schneider chose to prioritize her passion for writing. She described her first novel, “The Beginning of Everything” as “autobiographical” since she inserted many of her own experiences into the lives of her characters. Schneider had played tennis and was in a car accident like Ezra, and upon reflection, realized she had behaved as mysteriously as Cassidy in her youth.

The setting was also influenced by her personal life. Schneider created Eastwood to look like Irvine, California, where she grew up. Northwood High School in Irvine, which she attended, was the inspiration for her characters’ own Eastwood High.

Carlmont students had different reactions to the book talk.

“It was very well done. She seemed to be making up the speech on the spot too, so props to her for making it so real and down to earth,” said sophomore Aidan Jacobson, who received extra credit from his English teacher for attending the book talk.

Many English classes are still discussing “The Beginning of Everything,” so the book talk gave them the opportunity to ask questions about the novel’s symbolism and meaning.

“Going to the book talk put ‘The Beginning of Everything’ into context for me. After meeting [Schneider] the style of the book made more sense,” said Jacobson.

Schneider’s use of colloquial language and references to pop culture helped some students relate and caused others to cringe.

“A lot of the books that we read in school are set in older times, so it’s hard to relate. [Schneider] spoke really modernly today, kind of how ‘The Beginning of Everything’ was written,” said sophomore John Cardoza.

Although the book talk received positive feedback from many teachers and underclassmen, senior Alison Luna did not find “The Beginning of Everything” relatable to teenagers.

“I definitely see how publishers would want to buy ‘The Beginning of Everything’ because they think it is relatable to teenagers. But it’s really not, because [Schneider] really only took events in her life and threw them into a book with teenage characters. The problem is that publishers often get the perspective of a teenager wrong because obviously, they themselves are not teenagers,” said Luna.

Luna did not entertain the idea that Schneider’s colloquial style enabled relatability either.

“She sounds just like her book, and that explains a lot. Rewriting your life like Schneider did in ‘The Beginning of Everything’ doesn’t work because you want to fix so many things that it’s not real anymore,” said Luna. “You end up making yourself the tragic hero and everyone else a caricature instead of who they really were supposed to be.”

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Hannah Young, Staff Writer
Hannah Young is a junior at Carlmont High School. She loves the fine art of punning as well as playing music on her violin.   (Visited 2 times today)
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Students react to Schneider’s book talk