The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson follows the story of a girl named Andie who has plans to attend pre-premed medical camp over the summer, but her plans fall through at the last minute. Instead of the intense summer of studying she had planned, Andie spends time with her friends and her father, and manages to snag a rather unusual job which she, rather unexpectedly, enjoys. Because of this job, she meets a boy who’s different from any of the others she’s met and/or dated. He challenges her, he talks to her about real things, not just small talk before heavy make out sessions. He’s unexpectedly everything she needed.
Morgan Matson is basically the Queen of Summer Books. Her stories are well thought out and beautifully executed, dealing with heavy topics whilst managing to keep the tone light, fluffy and summery. They’re set in the summer, featuring summer romances without being a) too insta love-y b) full of complicated unnecessary drama or c) overly cheesy with proclamations of love and of staying together forever.
The Unexpected Everything was everything I expected from her and more. It’s different from her other books (at least the two that I’ve read – Since You’ve Been Gone and Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour) because the main character, Andie, isn’t as sad or depressed or lonely as her others were, which is refreshing. However, she has her own set of issues – she fears commitment, hasn’t had a chance to properly grieve her mother’s death and her relationship with her father is strained, to say the least.
Andie and her friends Toby, Bri and Palmer had a fantastic dynamic and felt like best friends. I loved reading the scenes when they were all together. A big part of the story is told via the texts that they send each other, which made reading the rather long story easier and a lot more entertaining. Early on in the story, they challenge Bri to spend the entire summer texting only through emojis. Deciphering what she said in texts and the others teasing her was really fun to read. Books where friendship forms an important theme are always the best!
I’d sometimes look at other people at my school—the girls who seemed to thrive on drama and were always fighting with their friends, the ones who didn’t even seem to like their friends that much—and know just how lucky I was.
To occupy herself over the summer, Andie takes up dog walking and on her first day on the job, meets a boy named Clark. Clark is so awkward and it’s WONDERFUL.
So, um,” Clark said, adjusting his glasses, “do you ever work nights?”
“I mean, if there were an emergency or something, I probably would.*
“No,” Clark said, shaking his head. “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.
He’s nerdy and dorky and so refreshing from other fictional boys. Throughout the story, we see how he’s funny and sweet and lovely to Andie. He has a great friendship with Palmer’s boyfriend, Tom, and it was great seeing him get along with her friends.
Throughout the story, we get short excerpts from this story, A Murder of Crows by C. B. McCallister. I’m not going to lie, I skimmed over them, not really paying much attention to them (as I did with the fan fiction in Fangirl). I did not see Clark being the author of those books, that was a surprising twist! He had a strict deadline but had terrible writer’s block. It was nice seeing how he got through the block and started writing again. I also loved how invested Andie and her friends were in his story, it was adorable.
Well, Andie’s not talking to me,” Clark said as he got a menu from where they were pressed against the wall with the ketchup and saltshakers. “I don’t know why.”
“Oh, yes, he does. He knows what he did.”
Palmer and Tom both looked at Clark. “What did you do?” she asked.
“He killed Tamsin,” I said, glowering at him, while across the table from me, Palmer’s jaw dropped.
“You what?” she gasped.
“Fictionally,” Clark explained hurriedly. “It’s not like she was a real person.”
“Clearly not, to you,” I huffed.
“You bastard,” Tom said, now glaring at Clark as well.
“Wait, why are you upset?” Clark asked, sounding baffled.
“Because it’s all coming back to me now,” he said, shaking his head at Clark. “Really, how could you have done that?”
The dialogue is just brilliant and so freaking hilarious!
There’s a big scavenger hunt that Palmer arranges every year and that’s when things start going downhill. I saw Wyatt and Bri being a thing since the scavenger hunt, they showed up late, no one saw them, the way Bri went out of her way to ensure Toby doesn’t have a crush on him anymore. While I didn’t approve of Bri betraying her best friend to date a boy, I think Toby overreacted. She should’ve been more accepting of the two. She let a boy come between years of bestfriendship and that was a bit disappointing.
Someone who I thought would be an important part of the story but wasn’t – Topher. From the second we were introduced to him, I got negative vibes from him. He served no real purpose in the story, apart from being Andie’s first kiss. I felt his presence in the story to be really unnecessary.
I really liked how Andie and her father resolved their issues midway through the novel, so we could see their relationship transform and them becoming closer. However, I felt they sorted everything out very quickly. Years and years of strain isn’t fixed in a single night and for an otherwise realistic story, that was a slight let down. The story ends on a bittersweet note – the four friends aren’t best friends anymore but Clark and Andie are together. Andie’s far more responsible and mature because of all that she learnt over the summer and it was really fun to see how she grew through the story. Her father makes a rather shocking (in a good way) announcement at the end which I didn’t see coming, but was pleasantly surprised by.
The book is quite long for a contemporary, but reading it felt like watching a teen movie come to life. I’d love to see this in movie form, please can that be a thing?! The characters are relatable, the dialogue will keep you laughing and the writing will keep you hooked. A must read summer novel for sure!