Title: The Unexpected Everything
Author: Morgan Matson
Published: May 3, 2016
Genre: YA Contemporary
Length: 519 pages
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 was, honestly, everything. As most of you probably know, Morgan Matson is one of my favorite (if not my favorite) contemporary authors. I absolutely adored Since You’ve Been Gone – and The Unexpected Everything didn’t disappoint me at all.
The Unexpected Everything was just as heartwarming and adorable and substantial as I’ve come to expect Morgan Matson to be. While romance is a focus of this book, it isn’t the main focus – the strongest elements of this book are Andie’s relationship with her father, and her relationship with her three best friends. As someone who loves reading about familial aspects in books, and someone who adores strong platonic relationships, I really loved that about this book.
“I could do this. If whole galaxies could change, so could I.”
The cover of this book is in typical Morgan Matson fashion – bright, fun, summer-y, and absolutely adorable. I’d like to think that, if this book was in a line up and I had to identify it (I don’t know what world that would happen in, but let’s just go with it), I’d easily be able to recognize it as Morgan Matson’s. Basically, I’m in love with it – and the dogs!! Seeing all the dogs makes me so happy!
Morgan Matson’s writing is always so wonderful to read – it’s quick, conversational, and extremely compelling. She’s my go-to and favorite contemporary author – and for good reason! Honestly, the best way to understand why Morgan Matson is considered by many (including me) as the queen of contemporary is to pick up one of her books for yourself.
Personally, I think I read this book at a very good time. I loved Andie a lot, and could relate to her a lot as a character – type A, always feeling the need to have everything figured out, feeling overwhelming panic when things don’t work out, shying away from any semblance of a relationship whatsoever, and being pretty flighty overall. However, Andie’s character development and growth throughout this book, and her learning that it’s okay for things to deviate from the course that had originally been planned, really struck a chord in me. If Andie can come to terms with the unexpected and just let herself roll with it, maybe I can finally learn to, too. (This is what I love about books).
Andie, Bri, Toby, and Palmer reminded me a lot of me and my group of best friends at school (Nutella Pizza Calzone!). Andie, Bri, Toby, and Palmer were so close and did practically everything together, and their friendship was so representative of the bond and sisterhood and beauty that comes with strong female friendships. However, I was very saddened by a certain turn of events – more on this later.
I loved reading about Andie and Clark’s relationship – like with Frank Porter, I really loved Clark. He was so extremely sweet and dorky, and was just overall very appealing for me to read about (in the sense of a love interest). I think their relationship was really well written, and I applaud Morgan Matson for the development they went through.
I got so unbelievably happy to see character reappearances, too! All of Morgan Matson’s books take place in/have a connection to the town Stanwich, Conneticut, so characters often pop up in other books. I LOVED being able to see Frank, Collins, Emily, and Dawn – I’m not sure if it’s because I was going through a rough time when I was reading this book, but I almost teared up from how happy I was. You guys know how much I love Since You’ve Been Gone, so you can imagine my excitement. What I loved most about seeing them all again was that I was able to see that Dawn and Emily and Matt were friends and okay again – I had been so worried about that and had really wanted to see a reconciliation at the end of Since You’ve Been Gone.
This book included everything that I love about Morgan Matson’s contemporary – it was a conversational read, compelling, had great platonic love (strong friendships), and had a focus on family. The Unexpected Everything actually focused on family more than practically anything else in the book – I loved the fact that the most important aspect of this book, besides Andie’s personal journey, was her reconnecting with her dad.
“How had I forgotten about this stuff? It was like I hadn’t let myself remember it in years and years – that my dad had been more to me than the last five years. That at one point we’d been really close, and the [toy] dog he flew across the ocean with had become my favorite because it was from him.”
I felt that this book had some really, really important themes – along with themes of family, it also talked about change and the future, which is really important to me, personally, like I mentioned earlier.
“The idea that you could rethink the thing you’d always thought you wanted and change your plan – it was almost a revolutionary concept. That you could choose what would make you happy, not successful.”
I also, like I mentioned before, really loved the strong friendship that Andie, Bri, Toby, and Palmer shared, and thought that the relationship between Andie and Clark was adorable and really healthy.
However, despite all the high points of this book, I do agree that this book was a bit longer than necessary – but honestly, this wasn’t a big problem for me at all. The major plot twist of this book <spoiler> (Bri being with Wyatt) </spoiler> was really predictable for me, honestly (I’m not sure if this is because of really good foreshadowing or excessive foreshadowing), but this wasn’t too big of a problem for me to read, because although I may have seen it coming, it was really, really hard to read about. I also felt that, despite how long this book was, some events were too rushed, and that I was left with some questions – similarly to how I felt about Since You’ve Been Gone, actually.
Something that saddened me was a certain aspect of the ending – <spoiler> I was sad to find that Bri and Toby weren’t friends at all. I think I was most bothered by the fact that it was over a boy – I hate, hate the idea of strong female friendships being torn apart because of a boy. I can’t begin to express how wrong I found what Bri did. Let me say this: it is never, EVER okay to fuck over your best friend for the sake of a boy – especially when relationship with said boy wasn’t going to last. It doesn’t matter if Bri knew that Toby wasn’t genuinely in love with Wyatt and was instead in love with the idea of him – it still wasn’t okay to do that to her. </spoiler> Despite all this, I really would’ve liked a reconciliation between the two of them. Maybe in one of Matson’s next books, they’ll pop up again?
Overall, because I loved how light this book managed to be while also being (very) substantial, and because I LOVED the friendships and focus on familial bonds, I gave The Unexpected Everything 4.5 stars. If you haven’t read a Morgan Matson book yet, I would really urge you to read Since You’ve Been Gone first, so that that you can really appreciate the character reappearances that take place in The Unexpected Everything. Morgan Matson, like I’ve said at least 100 times by now, is amazing, and I would recommend her to anyone.