A Book Review (#2): The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson -- #Dog Lovers, #RomCom, #Friendship Goals, #Growing Up
A Spoiler- Free Review
Morgan Matson is known in the YA world as being one of the masters of summery contemporary novels. Her novels include Amy and Roger's Epic Detour, Second Chance Summer, and Since You've Been Gone, along with her most recent novel, The Unexpected Everything published on May 3rd, 2016. The Unexpected Everything, was my third Morgan Matson read, leaving only Since You've Been Gone and her other novels written under the name Katie Finn, such as the Top 8 and the Broken Hearts and Revenge Trilogies, yet to be consumed.
The Unexpected Everything, follows our main character, Andie Walker, as she prepares for the summer, a summer, which has been has been planned out for months now, where she will spend the summer at John Hopkins taking the "pre-pre-med-med" program. This was until her recommendation letter was revoked due to news stating that her father, Alexander Walker, a congressman and politician was involved in a scandal that was now under investigation. In turn, leaving both her and her father home for the summer with little plans and more than awkward interactions. Mr. Walker has to re-learn his responsibilities as a parent and Andie has to search for something to fill her summer's now empty to-do list. It isn't until long before Andie finds herself roped into the dog walking business, a job she didn't exactly imagine for herself, as she had never owned a dog before. What makes this manageable though, is when she realizes that her best friends, Bri, Toby, and Palmer are also forced to stay in Stanwich, Connecticut, their hometown for the summer.
This is only the beginning of an unpredictable summer, especially when Andie receives a new dog walking client, Bertie, the oversized, fluffy, white dog she is tasked of walking every evening. As with every new client comes its caregiver, who happens to be Clark Bruce McCallister, a 19-year-old fantasy novelist, also known as, Morgan Matson's swoon worthy male lead, who is depicted as a teenage version of 'Clark Kent, Superman's true identity.' However, Bertie doesn't belong to Clark because Clark is only his step-in caregiver for the summer. Bertie belongs to Clark's publicist, along with the house he is staying in for the three month time-frame. The relationship between Andie and Clark quickly blooms despite it's uneasy beginnings and awkward first interactions. Nonetheless, each scene can be re-imagined with a romantic comedy undertone. Overall, Andie's summer does not go as expected, not even by a long shot. Andie's summer is now filled with friends, adorable dogs, a new relationship, and most importantly her family.
After looking back over my reading experience of The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson, I can comfortably give this novel a 4 out of 5 star rating. This novel was not a five star rating for me, as I found most of the novel's plot line to be predictable such as the moments where we found out who Andie's new client was going to be and who Wyatt (a boy Toby was obsesses with) was interested in.
Secondly, I didn't give this novel a five star rating due to the the amount of make-outs scenes and alcoholic references (not as many), which can be seen within many high school dramas or movies, but is not always presented in every high schoolers' story outside the mainstream media. I'm mainly referencing to my own experiences, coming from a low-key christian background, and being someone who didn't encounter this herself. Nonetheless, it could also been do to the fact that I tried to avoid these scenarios, as much as possible, living a pretty sheltered life due to my own moral standards.
However, what I did adore about this novel was the friendship that was represented between the main characters. This type of friendship is sometimes rarely seen within literature, one where friends are truly bonded together and care about each others actions and feelings, which was strongly woven in the relationship between Andie, Palmer, Bri, and Toby's storylines. It was also one that was realistic because the friendships weren't equal, some of the characters were closer to others, especially when you look at Toby and Bri's relationship.
I also enjoyed seeing the characters develop throughout this novel, from Andie realizing, she doesn't need to have everything planned, to Toby figuring out who she was outside her friend group, and to Clark conquering his writer's block. However, my favorite part was seeing Andie and her father's relationship re-build, especially when her father seemed to loosen up (during the scavenger hunt scenes). Along with, seeing his respect and care for his daughter was truly touching, a family dynamic that sometimes is missed from YA novels.
I even appreciated, the underlying theme Matson was trying to convey throughout this novel. A theme that can be encompassed by the saying by Bill Watterson, the cartoonist behind Calvin and Hobbs, "We're so busy watching out for what's just ahead of us that we don't take time to enjoy where we are," ("Goodreads," n.d.). A reminder that we should live in the moment and not resemble our main character, Andie's past self, the one who had everything planned because if we lived like that, we might miss the unexpected.
This 519-page novel flew by and for those who are looking for a light-hearted, contemporary read, I recommended this book to you.
Goodreads. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/live-in-the-moment