Book Review – The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

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“The idea that you could rethink the thing you’d always thought you wanted and change your plan – it was almost a revolutionary concept. That you could choose what would make you happy, not successful.”

Rating: 4/5

I was heading off to Florida in a few days time, so I wanted to  pick up a book that would be easy to read and very “summery.” My work life has been pretty stressful the past few weeks, so I wanted to read something that wasn’t too conflict-heavy, but also had a sense of nostalgia. I wanted to feel like how I did when I was in college; less responsibility, more fun. I wanted to feel what summer should feel like. I needed to feel less cynical because I’m a moody New Yorker about to head down to the suburbs of Florida. I needed something to get me back in a better mood.

When I picked up The Unexpected Everything, that is exactly what I got. I love Morgan Matson. I’ve read Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour and Since You’ve Been Gone and both books showed the beauty of teenage summer. They’re never too dark or filled with hard-headed stubborn people who never change. They’re realistic and enjoyable, so I was excited when I picked up this one.

Plot summary – A contemporary novel about a 17-year-old girl who’s summer fellowship was suddenly rejected. Now, she figures out what to spend her summer doing. She finds a job working as a dog walker that opens up her normal routine to a little bit of variety.

I’m slightly impressed with that quick plot summary. 😀

My review – This is the story of my angry New Yorker life.

**Please be advised that there are a ton of spoilers after this point**

I started reading this book earlier this week knowing I would carry it with me to Florida. We decided to take a train this year instead of the normal drive. It gave me the opportunity to read rather than stare aimlessly at the open road ahead of us. Throughout the scenic route, I couldn’t put this book down. As we passed each town from Penn Station to Raleigh, NC, I felt the way you’re supposed to feel when you’re reading a good book; complete and utter immersion.

Andie is the main character of this novel, but it sometimes felt like I was reading the stories of all her friends. Even though the book was written in the first person, I knew so much about her friendships with Palmer, Bri, Toby, Tom, and Clark I can’t say wholeheartedly that this book is solely about her.

Their summer is spent like how any teenage summer should be spent. There was time to get some spending money, but then there’s a ton of time just hanging out and spending time together. It’s the kind of summer I wish I had now. Now I spend my summers in a freezing cold office reading spreadsheets and managing young professionals through the trials and tribulations of working at a big corporate office. When I read this book, I’m transported back to when I was 17. I spent time at a local restaurant and talked about what dude I was dating. I totally crushed on a guy that I worked with. I had huge cryfests while I confessed to my parents what I wanted tobe doing with my life.

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While I asked for a novel with very little conflict, I found myself missing conflict all together. There were two main points with a little bit of tension. One was the relationship Andie kept with her dad and the second was the loss of her mother. However, Andie and her dad were able to resolve their issues together and her mother did leave her something before she died.

The big conflict point was when Andie’s friend, Toby, found out that their other friend, Bri, was sleeping with Toby’s crush, Wyatt. That was when the cookie of the perfect summer crumbled and it happened in the final quarter of the novel. How frustrating! This small domino piece got kicked out of place causing the rest of the summer spent in silence, taking extra shifts at work, and even contemplating the interest Andie had in her love interest.

I didn’t agree with it. I was thinking the entire time there was going to be some over-the-top conflict that made Andie contemplate the truth between good and evil. Why did this bother me that they had a practically perfect summer? Why did I crave so much more drama?

I thought about this for a day and I think I figured it out. I think it’s because I’m a curmudgeony New Yorker that forgot that the extent of teenage drama should be that their friends are upset about sleeping with each other. A normal teenager’s life shouldn’t be filled with turmoil or emotionally damaging moments. They shouldn’t be raped or bullied or hit with one bad moment after another. I’m so used to finding it in books that when I couldn’t find anything, it didn’t feel real. But the reality is that this is how most teenagers live their lives; conflict free.

And that’s how it should be for everyone. No one should suffer through anything until at least college 😉 It took me some time to process this, but once I did, I found the book so charming and upbeat. I wish I could feel that the low point for everyone is a little tiff between friends.

“If whole galaxies could change, so could I”

I put down the book after the final page and was completely satisfied. I read my summery book sitting in front of the pool and listening to the cicadas chirping across the yard. The ending was sadly predictable, but I think that’s OK. It’s supposed to make you feel the way a young adult feels when they are completely out of luck; that soon enough all you need is the hope that tomorrow will be a better day and that galaxies could change.

Would I recommend? Absolutely.

2 thoughts on “Book Review – The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

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