A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Unexpected Everything is Morgan Matson's best-selling contemporary realistic novel about the teen daughter of a potentially disgraced politician. Like Maton's other books, this one takes place in summer and focuses on how the main character's life changes for the better after suffering an unexpected disappointment. There's occasional strong language ("s--t," "f--k," "a--hole") and age-appropriate references to making out and (loss of) virginity. Although there's a central romance, this is a story of friendship, father-daughter relationships, and how taking the road less traveled can lead somewhere unforgettable.
What's the story?
Best-selling author Morgan Matson's realistic romance THE UNEXPECTED EVERYTHING follows type-A 17-year-old Alexandra "Andie" Walker, who likes to plan everything -- even how long she dates guys (no more than three weeks, so there's no risk of getting too serious). But as the book opens, Walker's father, a prominent Connecticut congressman who was once a vice presidential pick, is embroiled in a political scandal that forces him to temporarily step down while he's investigated for possible wrongdoing. The scandal causes Andie to lose her spot at a prestigious summer pre-med program. Desperate to get out of the house (and her now-always-around dad), Andie takes a surprisingly unpretentious job dog-walking, through which she meets Clark, a handsome, bookish geek.
Is it any good?
Morgan Matson proves once again that she's the queen of summer romances with this charming tale of a type-A teen who discovers the joys of first love after straying from her strictly planned path. Although the book is slightly longer than you'd expect from a perfect beach read, it's still engaging. Andie is a compelling protagonist with a strong squad of three best friends, and the four of them almost always put their enduring friendships above boy issues. It's refreshing to read about girls who make the boyfriends move over once their BFFs arrive at their signature diner. That's not to say there isn't boy drama, but for the bulk of the book, the girls remind one another that their relationships don't need to take a backseat just because they find significant others. Fans of Matson's other books will enjoy a couple of references to her past books, including the picturesque Connecticut setting and the mention of a title mentioned in Since You've Been Gone.
As always, Matson's character development focuses on three things: Andie's relationship with her widowed father; her navigating the changes in her friendships; and her opening up to a serious relationship. Thanks to an early meet-cute, the love interest is obvious from the first time he's introduced. That's fine, though, because except for his "hot nerd" looks, he's not your ordinary YA boyfriend. In fact, he's basically a cross between Christopher Paolini and George R.R. Martin. Clark isn't just interested in a summer fling or a quick hookup; he wants to get to know the real Andie, and that's an aspirational message for teens. Matson scores with another winning romance filled with positive messages and memorable characters.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about this author's specialty in writing books about life-changing summers. Why is summer such a magical time for teens? What are some of your favorite books set in summer?
Discuss the common theme of the orphaned or motherless/fatherless protagonist. Why do you think authors and readers are so drawn to characters who have lost one or both parents?
Why do you think some readers prefer one genre over another? Do you prefer realistic fiction or fantasy? What does Clark's story show about the process of writing?
- Author: Morgan Matson
- Genre: Contemporary Fiction
- Topics: Cats, Dogs, and Mice, Friendship, High School
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
- Publication date: May 3, 2016
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 18
- Number of pages: 528
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: June 20, 2019
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