posted at Friday, August 12th, 2016 at 8:00 AM | Reviews, Young Adult
I received this book for free from ALA in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson
Published by Simon & Schuster BFYR on May 3, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
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Andie had it all planned out.
When you are a politician’s daughter who’s pretty much raised yourself, you learn everything can be planned or spun, or both. Especially your future.
Important internship? Check.
Amazing friends? Check.
Guys? Check (as long as we’re talking no more than three weeks).
But that was before the scandal. Before having to be in the same house with her dad. Before walking an insane number of dogs. That was before Clark and those few months that might change her whole life.
Because here’s the thing—if everything’s planned out, you can never find the unexpected.
And where’s the fun in that?
Morgan Matson is a queen of contemporary. How many authors can write contemporary romances that surpass 500 pages? That’s not something you see much. Generally, fluffy romance books don’t much exceed 300 pages, but Matson’s tend to be LONG. Even more amazing is that they’re so good, I binge read The Unexpected Everything in just one day. Well, okay, I finished it just after midnight, so I guess it took days but, man, you guys are nitpicky. The Unexpected Everything is the best of fluff, full of actual fluffy puppies, beautiful character arcs, and a ship of gold.
Where Matson’s contemporaries really shine, and why they can be so long, is that, though the overall feeling of her books is fluffy adorableness, she tackles some deeper, darker stuff along with all the kissing. She’s a master of the emotional arc, and I’m especially impressed with the ones in The Unexpected Everything. If you’re talking in the terms of actual plot, there’s not a lot going on here and this book would be like any romcom (an intentional send up that I adore), but, if, like me, you think of character arcs as plot, The Unexpected Everything is jam-packed with constant change.
Andie’s father has been MIA ever since her mother died and he threw himself even more into his political career. Now, with a scandal forcing him out of office, he’s bouncing aimlessly around the house and interfering in Andie’s life. I’ve seen Morgan interview about why she loves writing books set in the summer, and that’s so clear in this book and Andie’s character arc.
Because of how Andie’s grown up, Andie’s type A and needs to be constantly in control. She’s grown up knowing that her behavior will impact her father’s campaign, and she’s careful never to let anything slip. She only shares anything besides surface details with anyone besides her three best friends: Parker, Toby, and Bri. Oh, and Tom, Bri’s boyfriend, who has sort of become a de facto member of the group. To everyone else, Andie’s closed off, especially to her three week boyfriends with whom she has two rules: nothing more than kissing and no feelings/discussion of real life things.
The summer of The Unexpected Everything is the summer where Andie throws caution to the wind and decides to really live for free. Because her dad’s not working until the scandal investigation concludes and because her highfaluting summer program kicked her out due to said scandal, Andie’s free this summer. Since all the good internships and jobs are gone, she ends up dogwalking, which initially embarrasses her but which she comes to love. The summer’s stakes are lower and Andie ends up taking chances, trusting people and letting herself be happy in a way she hasn’t been since her mother died of cancer.
Andie’s relationship with her father may not take center stage (that’s the romance, duh), but it’s the most important relationship to Andie in a lot of ways. Though Andie prides herself on her ability to take care of herself, she’s missed her father a lot, something she never wanted to admit to herself. Getting back on track is a struggle, but, when her dad remembers to be a dad to her, Andie’s life gets so much fuller. Her trust, or lack of it, is tied so very much to her relationship with her dad. That’s something that people, as kids/teens don’t want to admit, but the way that we view the world and relationships often has a heck of a lot to do with our parents. Matson showed this beautifully. Many of my favorite scenes in the book featured Andie’s dad, like when Clark first shows up to take Andie on a date and when he helped out with the scavenger hunt.
Andie’s friend group is a nice effort. I don’t think this element is quite perfect, because it’s hard to fully characterize that many people. Parker, for example, doesn’t really have a plot of her own. I like her and Tom, but they put the support in supporting characters. The inevitable friendship drama was both sad and predictable, but well done. The emoji challenge is hilarious and a fun quirk for the book. I really loved a couple things about the resolution of the friend group plot line: View Spoiler »It’s sad, but I like that the friend group had to change and might not recover from the events of the summer. That’s not something you really see that much in books that aren’t monumentally depressing, but people change and friendships don’t always last. Also, I like that one of the girls didn’t get a boy, since that pairing off is a bit too convenient. « Hide Spoiler
That’s pretty much it for The Unexpected Everything. Just kidding. Obvs, I need to talk about the romance. Which is freaking adorable. Clark ♥. He’s another adorable nerd boy, and yes I love him. Matson does some pretty unique things with this romance that I could not have loved more. When Clark first meets people, he is like massively awkward. It’s kind of amazing that Andie could see past that and was willing to ask him out, since he really could not manage to do it, but then again he’s super cute. Also, their first date is hilariously horrible because they don’t know anything about each other and Andie’s being Miss Brick Wall of No Real Stuff Land. So so cute and funny.
Once Andie opens up, she falls big time, and I really love the way that Matson handles her trust and emotional issues as I’ve said before. It’s great that Clark, friendly as he is, also has some stuff to work on, because otherwise he would have been too cute and perfect. Like, for real, the boy is a published fantasy author. He’s basically a cross between Christopher Paolini (youth) and G.R.R. Martin (character killing, book withholding). Obviously that just makes him even hotter, though by far the weakest element of the book are his fantasy novel snippets, especially the one for his third book because he’s just barely changed the names on actual people and holy shit why. But whatever just ignore that and focus on the cuteness of this ship.
This reminds me that I really need to get to work reading Matson’s backlist. The Unexpected Everything is, ironically, everything that I expected it would be: shippy, character-focused, and feelsy.
Clearly, the downside of having a theoretical crush on someone you knew nothing about was the crashing realization that you actually knew nothing about them.
Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy: