The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Published by: Simon & Schuster
I really wasn’t sure while reading this if I could give it five stars, but the longer I left it to write this review, I realised how much I adored it! Morgan Matson can seriously do no wrong, she’s my favourite author of all time, and if you’ve been following my reviews for a long time you’ll know that Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour is my favourite book of all time too. So, obviously, I went into The Unexpected Everything with ridiculously high expectations. I should also mention that I paid extra for the hardback US edition from The Book Depository so I could own this BEAUTIFUL cover! But I am really happy to announce that I loved it!
P L O T
Andy’s always been the girl with the plan – her father’s daughter – but when one of her references pulls out for the program she was signed up for over the summer, Andie has to come to terms with what her summer will really mean. No job, and three whole months of hanging out at home, with her dad shut away in his study. At least she has her friends there, and it will be the first summer in forever where the whole gang has been in one place. So there’s always a bright side! And gets a job as a dog walker (accidentally on purpose) and her life changes direction. She has to learn to appreciate things as they come and value the people in her life more than she ever has.
I feel, in general, that the story took a little while to find its feet. Unlike her other books, I wasn’t completely sucked in from the very first page. I think that’s partly because all of the tension in relation to parents in drawn out in her other books but in The Unexpected Everything we need to know that Andie’s mother died and she has a poor relationship with her dad at the very beginning. But once I accepted TUE as what it was rather than what it wasn’t, I started to enjoy myself a lot more!
C H A R A C T E R S
Andie – At first, I connect with her. She was so unlike me, and after identifying with Emily so much, I really struggled to get into it. Although the blurb suggests that Andie’s super organised, I’d classify her under the ‘Generic Not Bitchy Popular Girl’ category, rather than ‘The Planner.’ She’s got a great group of friends and has zero problems when it comes to guys, but she never stays in relationships for very long. What’s she afraid of, right?
Palmer – Andie’s best friend. She’s working as a theatre director kind of person over the summer, so she can spend more time with her boyfriend Tom. I didn’t think there was anything specifically unique about Palmer, she was just very much The Best Friend.
Toby – arguably the most interesting girl in the group. She thinks she’s cursed because she’s never been in a relationship before, and all of her friends seem to be moving on in life, leaving her behind. She’s probably got some complex psychological issues related to her body image/ personality and has an inferiority complex too. I loved Toby, she was my favourite of the group, because she had the most potential for drama. I kept finding myself wondering why this book didn’t focus on Toby instead – her thoughts processes would’ve been amazing to read! I could really relate to her insecurities and it was a shame that her friends didn’t completely understand, because I would’ve liked to explore Toby’s life a lot more.
SPOILER ALERT & CRACKPOT THEORY
I was convinced when Toby and Sabrina fell out and they were in the bus – you know the bit when Toby practically leaps out of the back of the bus? – that we wouldn’t see Toby again, and Morgan Matson was setting up her next book, with Toby as the protagonist, and it would begin with her going into the coffee shop at wherever she was and having a meet cute with some waiter. That was what I desperately wanted to happen anyway. Fan fiction time?
END OF SPOILERS
Sabrina – was probably the most underrated of the friends. Again, a story solely about her could be amazing. Like Toby she struggled a lot with her image and who she was. It was a shame that her best friendship with Toby was on the back burner to focus on Andie and Clark.
Clark – Andie’s love interest and sufferer from writer’s block after his first two books were published (yes, he is young.) He’s hanging around in his publisher’s house for the summer, looking after the dog, and trying to get away from some familial issue, which unfortunately we don’t get much closure on. He’s a cinnamon roll, pretty much. Just your average ordinary everyday nerd hunk.
Tom – a little bit goofy, but also super serious at the same time? He’s very involved with his acting, and is the plus one to the girls’ get togethers before Clark comes into the picture. He knows where he stand in the hierarchy of girl friendship. Aka. below it!
Wyatt – bad boy extraordinaire, and also the guy that Toby has to be obsessed with (in a completely romanticised and unhealthy way.) He’s not that present, and sometimes feels like a bit of a freeloader, but he increases the boy/girl dynamic and if there’s anything better than a group of six friends, it’s a group of seven friends, am I right?!
R O M A N C E
As sweet as you would imagine it to be. Clark and Andie get together with no big drama, and they slowly learn more about each other cute little dates and all-night talk sessions. I loved how happy the pair seemed. After Frank and Emily from Since You’ve Been Gone are never super explicitly together, Clark and Andie’s easy togetherness felt like a real change of pace.
The Unexpected Everything deals with all different kind of relationships from budding ones, to unhealthy ones, to secret one. You name it, it’s probably in here. The majority of the tension comes from the friendship group and their relationship dramas, so the book has that classic summer scandal vibe.
P A C I N G
This was where I had the majority of my problems. For a long time there was LITERALLY no conflict. For Andie, it was on the up and up. Andie and Clark got together easily, and the issues with Andie’s dad, which I thought were going to be BIG NEWS for this book, where resolved after one fight. (?!?!??) Andie pretty much said all she wanted to and her dad just took it. Then he had a personality transplant and all was well? I mean, it did take a while for them to settle into a rhythm of actual family life, but her dad definitely wasn’t the main parent causing the problems. It was Andie’s mum, who she had some latent unresolved feelings with.
The ‘big blowout’ as it were came at the very end, and was about the friendship group. Trouble was, it wasn’t even related to Andie! Yes, she was involved and had a small part to play in the drama, but it definitely wasn’t entered on her. But her friends turn on her anyway, because why? She also self sabotages her relationship with Clark and I hated watching Andie slowly self-destruct, it seemed unnecessary, even though it might have been character consistent. It was like she did all of her developing then regressed and then had to quickly get back to where she was in the middle of the book!
Also, let’s talk about line breaks. A line break could mean five minutes. Like when Andie and Clark were talking and one of them was about to tell a big anecdote, there would be a line break and we’d miss it! Then we’d skip forward an hour maybe and they’d be talking about something else, and I always felt like I was missing something. The summer seemed to go by really quickly and the prose was littered with things like ‘Earlier in the week we’d do…’, etc. and I’d actually want to read about those scenes but we never did! It was probably the weakest pacing of all of Morgan’s books, unfortunately. But it got there in the end!
V E R D I C T
The ending made my cry – OF COURSE IT DID! – damn you, Clark McAllister, you adorable human being. I saw it coming, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t emotional. Basically, I wanted to re-read this book straight after finishing it, because on the second time round I would know what i was getting into. I think all you have to keep in mind is that it’s different to what she’s previously written and that’s okay! So far MM hasn’t let me down, so can her next book be out next week, please? ALSO: a warning! If you haven’t read any MM yet then read them in publishing order, because if you’ll do you’ll be able to pick out all the easter eggs to her other characters and it’s THE BEST THING EVER.