Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

The biggest upside of enjoying Morgan Matson's books is that she routinely publishes every year under her name and also under the name Katie Finn. This month, Matson's The Unexpected Everything and Finn's Hearts, Fingers, and Other Things to Cross were published, and while I picked them both up, I read The Unexpected Everything first. 

Teenage Andie has her entire summer already planned out. She's going to attend a prestigious summer program at John Hopkins that will set her up for pre-med and her projected career as a doctor. She's so sure about her own plans, that she feels stressed on behalf of her on-again/off-again Topher, who forgot to secure anything and is going to intern for his father instead. Andie sees the summers between high school as the time to build her resume and the credentials she needs to plan her future. This planning impulse might be an influence of her dad, who is local congressman Alexander Walker. But when a scandal means the congressman has to step down, and the doctor who acted as Andie's referee for the program rescinds his letter, Andie realizes she's going to have to make other plans. She just doesn't expect those plans to be becoming Stanwich, Connecticut's resident dog walker.

Friendship largely shapes the novel, as Andie's tight knit group of friends - Palmer, Toby, and Bri - are together for the entire summer for the very first time. And then there's Clark, named after a superhero and with the same, chunky glasses, who is living in Stanwich for the summer and taking care of Bertie, the dog that comes with the house he's staying in. Clark writes a bestselling series of fantasy novels, and although he's only nineteen, he's achieved a George R. R. Martin level of success, and readers are clamouring for his next novel in much the same way. When Clark and Andie find their lives colliding, they leap into a summer romance, one that is nuanced and exciting.

I flew through The Unexpected Everything. Matson knows how to write YA novels set in the summer, and characters from her other summer novels - Second Chance Summer and Since You've Been Gone - make cameos here.