Monday 20 June 2016

Book Review: The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson.

Product details:  
Publisher: Simon & Schuster.
Hardcover, 519 pages.
Release date: May 3rd 2016.
Rating: 3½ out of 5.
Ages: 12+
Source: Received from publisher for review.

 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?

 Seventeen year old Andie Walker doesn’t just have her summer all planned out, she has her whole life planned out. Ever since Andie’s Mom died five years ago, Andie has lived her life by a series of set rules – and she never steps out of line.  Andie’s summer plans involve an important internship at John Hopkins. For her life plans, she’s all about medical school, and as for romantic relationships, she fits those in too. As long as they don’t last any longer than three weeks, that is.  Andie likes to stick to the rules, yes, as long as they are her rules. But this summer, Andie is about to find out that rules are made to be broken, and that life doesn’t always go to plan.

Andie. Hm. She’s a tough one to get to know, in that she doesn’t readily let people into her life.  She’s guarded, and that’s because, with a congressman as a Dad, she has to be. Andie’s always watching her back, and she doesn’t let people into her life, or into her heart all too easily. Take Topher: these two have been hooking up for years with one thing in common – they both have parents that work in politics, so they get each other.  Also, Topher’s hot. However, Andie’s never going to give her heart to Topher. He’s her fall back guy, her friend with benefits for those times when she’s in-between relationships. Andie’s heart has been hurt by her Mom’s death, and it makes sense that she’s super-vigilant in protecting herself from any more hurt. Eventually, though, she’ll have to open her heart up to love, right? I know it. And you know it too!

So, Andie’s all ready for her summer internship, and then…Well, a political scandal rocks her father’s world and her internship is revoked (so unfair!) With a whole summer ahead of her and all the cool internships snapped up already, Andie is out of options. So, in order to get out of her house (where her Dad, currently out of a job, is hanging around ALL day), Andie takes a job as a dog-walker.  Initially, Andie’s attitude to her new job is not so great. Let’s just say that Andie definitely does not see dog walking as a future career option, but her furry friends soon win her over, and along the way she meets a cute nerd called Clark, who just might sweep her off her feet (if she lets him!)

Like Morgan Matson’s previous books, The Unexpected Everything is a pleasant, character-driven, coming of age read. At over five-hundred pages, it’s not a quick read, and I found it to be somewhat slow moving in parts. I will say that the ending of this book was worth the wait, though: it is heart-felt and honest and will leave you feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. It will probably leave you with a great big smile on your face too, which is always good. That said, this isn’t my favourite of Matson’s books (that’s Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, closely followed by Second Chance Summer) but it is a strong summer contemp, well-written and with a pretty swoony romance too (albeit with a few stumbling blocks along the way!)

Matson tends to focus heavily on friendships in her books: here Andie has a close group of girlfriends with confusing names like Bri, Toby and Palmer (I swear, for the first few chapters I thought they were all dudes!) Each of Andie’s friends comes equipped with their own hopes, fears, dramas and summer jobs, and I have to say that as the supporting characters in this novel, I’m not totally sure that they totally worked. For one, it takes a while to get to know each of them (three best friends, along with a long-term boyfriend and a crush) and this slows down the novel quite a bit. Also, some of these characters, (Ahem, Toby) kind of annoyed me. We’ve all had a Toby in our lives: she’s the needy, insecure, attention-seeking friend who won’t let you date the guy you like, because she has a crush on him too. It doesn’t matter that he’s interested in you, and never was interested in her at all. Gah. Drama. Maybe I’ve finally aged out of this stuff. (I SO haven’t!)

If you’re looking for a summer read that will last you your whole holiday long, then this is it. The Unexpected Everything is perfect for lazy days at the beach. Overall, I found it too long, though. The story of Andie’s summer just doesn’t merit 500+ pages. Or maybe I’m just impatient and I always want to get to the good stuff fast. And there is good stuff. Awkward dates, cute dates, lots of kissing. Adorable canines.  Other good stuff includes: Andie’s relationship with her dad, which I haven’t talked about at all here, but which is very well-written and reads very true.  A totally fun scavenger hunt, featuring a cameo appearance from none other than Emily Hughes (Since You’ve Been Gone) which includes an in-joke about lists (I laughed!) There are other cameos too, but I won’t say who – you’ll just have to read The Unexpected Everything to find out! 

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