Simon & Schuster Canada
Disclaimer: An Advanced Reader’s Copy (ARC) of the book was provided by the publisher for an honest review.
Two years ago, around this time, when the winter blues became a distant memory and it was still bright outside at 7 PM, I read and reviewed Morgan Matson’s Since You’ve Been Gone. It was my first book review on this site. It was a great summer read, and I was extremely excited when I found out Matson had a new book out this year: The Unexpected Everything. In it, Andie Walker has big plans for her summer, which includes attending the Johns Hopkins’ Young Scholars Program. She has no intention of letting the political scandal that her congressman father is embroiled in stop her … except, it does. With her well crafted plans thrown out the window, Andie has the summer wide open and a father she no longer knows home all the time. She gets herself hired as a dog walker, meets a cute guy named Clark, and with the support of her best buds, has a pretty spectacular summer.
I really enjoyed reading about Andie especially because she’s flawed. With the exception of her her best friends—Palmer, Bri, and Toby—she likes to keep people at arms length, which is not surprising given that she grew up with a father in politics and getting media training at the age of thirteen. Her life is an extension of her father’s job, which sounds horrific for a teenager, so it was great to see her get the opportunity to break free of it when the scandal forces her dad to take a leave of absence. Since her father had put more time into being a congressman than being a father, the relationship between them is essentially nonexistent. It wasn’t the case of intentional neglect, but more like a combination of forgetting the role a parent plays in parenting and not dealing with family grief. A large part of the gulf between them has to do with Andie’s mother dying five years prior from cancer, and it was obvious how much of a glue she was. They both lost someone they loved so much and have lost their connection to each other when they stopped listening and voicing their feelings.
Watching the two of them get to know one another again made me really emotional. I love my dad, and he’s the best, but we bump heads a lot, because we’re so alike, especially now as I become my own person, which forces us to reassess and evolve our father-daughter relationship. It’s never been bad, like it was with Andie and her father, but I was able to connect with the base feeling of frustration that’s also counterbalanced with the fact that you love this person unconditionally. It was fantastic not only seeing such a large presence of a parent in a teen’s life, but also an interrogation of it. I haven’t read a lot of YA books that do that since they often given very little page time to the parents.
Another thing I love in my YA is great friendships. I wanted Palmer, Bri, and Toby to be my pals for the summer. The ladies are different, but supportive, and have their own unique needs that manifest in an interesting way further along in the story. The dogs that Andie walks also have personalities, with Bertie being the main loveable fluff that we get to fall for around the same time we fall for the cute guy: Clark. Yes, he has glasses just like our Superman. It’s actually funny how many references to the comic book characters there are (Clark’s middle name is Bruce, like my bat friend, and his sister is named Kara). I love Clark. I love that he’s named Clark, is a adorable dork, a creative, and truly cares about Andie. Ugh … I love Clark.
The coolest thing about this book, however, is that it’s set in the same world as Since You’ve Been Gone. I first noticed it when the characters mentioned The Orchard as a hang out spot, and I verified it with the author herself.
— morgan matson (@morgan_m) June 1, 2016
There’s even a scene where Andie meets Emily and Dawn from SYBG which was pretty great, and now I’m just hoping for more summer reads taking place in this fake Stanwich, Connecticut.
I spent a lot of time reading this book in an air conditioned Tim Hortons while sipping an iced cappuccino. It’s not exactly a hammock, but it was just as great. I definitely recommend it, and it’s the perfect time of year to pick it up.