Title: The Unexpected Everything (2016)
Author: Morgan Matson
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Extent: 519 pages
Release Date: May 3, 2016
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?
The Unexpected Everything is definitely a summer book. Our protagonist is literally starting her summer holiday; a scavenger hunt with her friends takes place; there’s a meet-cute with an awkward-but-handsome older guy… Unsurprisingly, I really enjoyed this one, despite its (really long, not all of it 100% necessary) length.
Andie starts out as a classic Go-Getter Girl. Ever since her father went into politics, she’s been used to showing only the best of herself, hiding the messy and the vulnerable deep, deep inside. She’s also super ambitious, with plans that detail all the steps she needs to take so she gets where she wants to — which makes her come across as a bit uptight and also occasionally judgmental. This isn’t a bad thing at all, because she developed over the course of the story and ended up a much more likeable character. She wasn’t afraid to apologise when she was wrong, and she didn’t shy away from expressing her feelings, at least at the end.
I could do this. If whole galaxies could change, so could I.
The other cast of characters was, as a whole, entertaining. There are Andie’s best friends, Toby, Palmer and Bri, whose interactions were some of the most humorous, light-hearted parts of this whole book. I love reading their text messages and I also love, especially, deciphering Toby’s emojis — I’ve been guilty of using just emojis in my texts myself, this part was just really relatable and funny.
Family is also a strong theme in this book, and I think this is where The Unexpected Everything truly shines; the relationship between Andie and her father is the most interesting plotlines in the book, far above Andie’s romance with Clark, summer job, and even her friendship drama. Andie’s father is first characterised as a dense, somewhat neglectful parent who hasn’t really been there for his daughter for five years.
There was a lot of (valid) resentment from Andie’s part that, in my experience, realistically would’ve taken quite a bit of time and active effort to address. In this book, though, it was essentially solved within a few pages, as a part of the narration. I would’ve loved to see this as part of the story (as character dialogue and action) and with generally more depth, but sadly that didn’t happen. This, unfortunately, was rather disappointing and one of the reasons why I took a star off.
Another reason why this book didn’t receive the full five stars from me was the romance. I just didn’t really care for Clark one way or another — I didn’t dislike him, but I didn’t like him either. I just wasn’t interested in what he had to say, and he didn’t feel unique or swoon-worthy to me at all, even after knowing his full history.
This was because for the most part, Clark felt a little bit cliched to me. He was essentially the perfect love interest: hot, kind, honest, talented, rich… his only flaw seems to be that he was ‘awkward’, which Andie found cute, therefore kind of negating the whole point of a flaw. I also found it kind of strange that he [spoiler] wrote his third book with characters very similarly named after Andie and her friends. I know writers often take inspiration from their life, but this one was just a bit too close to it for me [/end spoiler].
All that said, however, I really liked the ending of the book. Matson didn’t tie up all the loose ends, which means that some things are left up in the air such as [spoiler] Toby and Bri’s friendship, which to me was the second other most interesting plotline. Their argument in the campaign bus was one of the most realistic, relatable parts of the story, in my opinion, and I wish there was more of it [/end spoiler].
“Life is so short, my darling. And there’s no day like today.”
I’ve only read another one of Morgan Matson’s books before this (Since You’ve Been Gone, which I enjoyed but found quite flawed), and went into this book with apprehension, but I have to say that that apprehension was unneeded after all. The Unexpected Everything was a good summer read, filled with just the enough romance, family and friendship to give you the warm and fuzzies. 😛