Published by: Simon & Schuster Children's

Genre(s): Contemporary, Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Romance, Young Adult

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

The Unexpected Everything centres on our main character Andie, who is the daughter of an important Congressman. Andie has everything planned out for the summer and Andie always plans to stick to a plan. Andie is a very smart and logical character. She’s independent and a straight-A student who has a pre-med internship lined up for her but everything comes crashing down when her father is involved in a political scandal. This causes her summer plans to inevitably change and finds herself walking a lot of dogs and also meeting a boy named Clark.

This is only just my second Morgan Matson read and what I like about her books is that she does a great job of balancing serious issues with fun, summer themes. It also focuses on genuine friendship and family, giving the story a more emotional impact, than just it being about a boy.

Andie’s dad’s life revolves around his work and this affected her because she wasn’t allowed to do things (like drinking and partying hard) that would make her dad look bad. In a way Andie’s dad neglected her because he hasn’t been a father to her in the last five years, following the death of her mum. After Andie’s outburst, it was nice to see her dad wanting to fix the problem (he calls it a strategy, funnily enough!) he acknowledges that he needs to spend more time with his daughter. Some of my favourite scenes were Andie bonding with her dad, spending time eating dinners and watching movies together. I loved reading that aspect of the story.

I’m all for friendship in YA, so no surprise I really enjoyed reading the dynamics between Andie and her friends, Palmer, Bri and Toby. The chain texts were really funny and endearing, along with Toby’s emojis. That was a really fun and unique element to the story.

Like everyone else, I really adored Clark. That is such an unusual name I’ve realised, no one names their children Clark, do they? I really liked how Andie and Clark first met because it involved a dog called Bertie who was running loose. I liked how genuinely awkward their disastrous first date was, especially when Clark meets Andie’s dad head on, it was so hilarious.

“I was just . . . trying to get a sense of your schedule.” He blinked, like he’d just heard himself, and I could see the tops of his ears were starting to turn red. “Wow, that sounded creepy. I didn’t mean that in, like, a weird way. I think I’m making this worse. Oh god.” He took a breath, then swallowed hard. “I was wondering, you know, what you do. At night.” He stared at me in horror after he said it, like he couldn’t quite believe the words had come out of his mouth. “Oh, man,” he muttered, closing his eyes behind his glasses for a moment. “This isn’t going well.”
I had to bite my lip to stop myself from smiling wide.”

Clark is not your typical YA love interest. He’s awkward, into fandoms like Batman and Superman, writes fantasy books and basically a down to earth nerd and I really like that. It definitely makes a nice change from all the typical good-looking bad boys you usually read about. There should be more Clarks in YA, just saying. I just assumed that Clark was, you know at High School, BUT there is more to him than meets the eye…especially with his interesting occupation. I was not expecting that.

I didn’t really relate to Andie at first because she felt like she was above walking dogs and near the climax, she made a decision which wasn’t hers to make and another thing she did which frustrated me and made her completely unlikeable. However, after finishing the book, I found myself enjoying reading about Andie’s character development because she did redeem herself. She matured and changed from that girl who had sort of a cold exterior, always had a plan to a girl who was happy to not have a plan and who stopped running away from her problems.

This setting is the same setting in Since You’ve Been Gone, so I was quite excited to read cameos of Frank and Emily. That was unexpected (no pun intended). I had forgotten that Emily works in Ice-Cream Paradise and there was Dawn who also made an appearance that made me think oh yeah I remember!

Last but not least, the dogs! After watching ITV’s Britain’s Favourite Dogs, that has influenced me to want to have a dog (preferably a husky or a labradoodle), even though I know I can’t handle the responsibility; probably should opt for a cat but dogs are so much more affectionate. I really liked that dogs had an involvement in this book and that Andie discovers she actually has a knack for working with animals.

I mentioned a lot of positive things about The Unexpected Everything but my only criticism is that I felt like there was too many coincidences that made me feel a bit sceptical. The second to last chapter reminded me of Notting Hill. Cheesy but I think it worked because it was just too cute. This book is way too long for a contemporary at over 500 pages. There were parts in the book that dragged on and so much could have been cut back. Despite of that, I found myself flipping through the pages because of the easy and readable writing style, so it wasn’t a problem once you dive into the story.

I had high expectations because of all the constant hype surrounding it but I don’t think my expectations were met. Don’t get me wrong, this is a great summer read and I did really enjoy it for the most part. I liked it but I didn’t love it, which the reason for the 3 star rating and don’t feel like I could rate it any higher than that. So far, Since You’ve Been Gone is my favourite Morgan Matson book but I have yet to read Second Chance Summer and Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour.

Andie may have lost out on her pre-med internship but an unexpected summer of bonding with her dad, walking dogs, meeting Clark and taking part in her friends’ annual summer scavenger hunt wasn’t so bad after all.

More reviews at I Read Therefore I Am.


Published by Thuong Le