On the surface, The Unexpected Everything doesn’t quite stand out amongst the new summer contemporary releases. It’s about an upper middle class perfectionist with a mom who passed away and workaholic father. Over the course of a summer, she has fun, makes mistakes, reconnects with her father and falls in love. It’s a familiar story, one we’ve read and probably enjoyed time and time again. It’s light with just a dash of dark, summer-y with just the right amount of YA appropriate hotness and flowy without feeling shallow. The Unexpected Everything is exactly what its title indicates. While Morgan Matson’s new novel is all of these things, it also transcends the familiar and gives readers something real with Andie, her friends and an unexpected summer.
Andie isn’t a perfect protagonist, and that’s what makes her immediately interesting. The strict and careful way she has lived her life since her mom died has shaped the way she’s approached new relationships. The only exception is her group of childhood friends, an eclectic mix of personalities that bring a lot of joy and heartache to Andie’s story. While the romance makes up a significant portion of the novel, female friendship and how its dynamics can shift as we grow and experience new things is fully explored. The charming text conversations, funny bets, sad betrayals and hopeful moments the girls share make the story come full circle. Andie may always feel like she’s on her own, but her friends are there to constantly prove her wrong.
On another level, it’s about being open and facing the uncomfortable and surprising challenges life can throw at you. Daughter of a rising politician, Andie was trained to not cause any scandals, so when it’s her dad of all people who finds himself in the middle of an investigation, Andie’s summer is thrown for a loop. She loses an esteemed pre-med internship and finds a summer job in dog walking, something she never thought she’d be doing. For the first time in a while, Andie is letting herself be open to new possibilities, like a real relationship with her father and allowing herself to open up to a cute, nerdy boy.
A coming of age story more than anything, The Unexpected Everything is multi-layered, tackling and balancing a number of interesting themes in a well-paced and quintessential summer read.
The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson is now available wherever books are sold.