The Unexpected Everything

Book review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
The Unexpected Everything Book Poster Image
Sweet summer romance explores open and honest relationships.

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Shows the writing process, how publishing works, and how the children of politicians have higher expectations placed on them because they're in the public eye.

Positive Messages

The Unexpected Everything encourages honesty between friends and open communication between parents and kids. The story also promotes dating someone who actually knows you, not just someone you like superficially. It also demonstrates how important and transformative reading can be for people.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Andie is intelligent, driven, ambitious, and generous with her friends. Clark is an attentive, loving boyfriend who wants to really know not just Andie but also her close friends. Andie's crew is super tight, and the teens help one another through all kinds of emergencies and issues.

Violence

Some potentially grief-triggering recollections of a mom who died of cancer.

Sex

Several make-out sessions. Andie mentions that she only kisses/makes out with boys, but as her first serious relationship heats up, they get a lot closer to having sex for the first time. There are also discussions of virginity (hers) versus experience (his), and two of her best friends also have had sex. A couple has a secret sexual relationship so as not to upset someone who had an unrequited crush on one of them.

Language

Occasional strong language: "s--t," "f--k." "a--hole," "bitch," and so on.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Teens drink at various unsupervised parties, and the protagonist hides her alcohol by using half-filled soda bottles and filling the other half with liquor.

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byabbacus September 9, 2016

Great book!!!

Very cute lighthearted book with some deeper meaning as well. Themes of grief, friendship, young love, and perseverance. Well written and great for teens of all... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byHRM1104 July 16, 2018

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?

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