Everything is Just Beginning (Book Review)

  • Author: Erin Bartels
  • Publisher: Revell
  • Available Now
  • Synopsis: While living with his Uncle Mike in a trailer adjoining the property of a famous musical couple, Michael meets their daughter, who quickly befriends him.
  • Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher. Opinions expressed are my own.

Scripture Connection

But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.

John 2:24-25

Spiritual Themes

Bartels explores the search for significance, clearly demonstrating that life’s meaning— and fulfillment— cannot be found in the approval of people. This is such an important message, and it is so well-conveyed. Although the verse above is about Jesus, I felt that it was fitting because it demonstrates His example in this.

Forgiveness also plays a significant role in the plot.

What I Liked

Erin Bartels is an excellent writer with a strong command of voice. As the narrator, Michael is thoroughly believable. Everything he does is consistent with his character, and he feels like he could be— and probably is— a real person. He’s fully, and seemingly effortlessly, fleshed out from the first page of the novel. This isn’t to say I liked Michael throughout the novel, but I always believed him.

The found family dynamics were beautiful. I’ve read only one other novel, The Girl who Could Breathe Underwater, by Erin Bartels, and this newest release reminded me a lot of the other one, in terms of family relationships. In both cases, a kind and wealthy family welcomes a person into their circle. And that is a beautiful thing to read about.

The redemptive plot line was also gorgeous. I won’t spoil by saying more about that, but the book was both powerful and beautiful.

Although this isn’t necessarily a fair comparison (Everything is Just Beginning has a lot more texture), Natalie reminded me a bit of Jamie Sullivan from Nicholas Sparks’ A Walk to Remember. Like Jamie, Natalie is prepared to see the best in people and she’s able to take charge of a situation, even when those around her mistake her deliberate dismissal of social cues for naivety. Michael is also a little bit like Landon from A Walk to Remember. I do list this as a positive because that novel is a favorite of mine, albeit very different than Everything is Just Beginning.

The “historical” setting of the story was well-executed. While I was expecting a stronger emphasis on the major events of the period (i.e., what you would read about in a textbook), based on the back cover, I felt that the occasional brief references were both effective and realistic. After all, when it comes to major events, many people will here about what is happening, without actually being personally affected. If I were to recount a season in my life, in later years, I would probably be more focused on my personal experience than on the context of national/global events.

Overall, although this book was a bit heavier than what I usually like to read, the writing was so strong—hence, the five star rating.

Content Notes

Michael and Natalie spend a good deal of time together in the Listening Room, which is described with sacred/reverential language.

In terms of romantic content, I don’t recall other notes, but I was sick while reading (and it’s now been a few weeks since I finished).

Recommendation Status

Rich and powerful, Everything Starts Here is a well-crafted, emotional read. Recommended for readers who are looking for a powerful read and enjoy bittersweet narratives.

Published by Stephaniesninthsuitcase

Hi, there! My name is Stephanie and I’m a Fresno, CA native. After studying at Biola University, I received my MLIS (Masters in Library Science) from San Jose State University. I live with my mom, poet Kimberly Vargas Agnese, and serve as her unofficial agent. We reside at MeadowArc, a food forest in its infancy. I am called to, and passionate about, purity. In fact, the name Agnes means “pure.” Before I was born, my mom felt led to include the name Agnes in her name, and in the names of her children. My full, hyphenated name includes 26 letters (but not the whole alphabet).

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