“If whole galaxies could change, so could I.”
It’s seriously impossible for me not to fall in love with the summer season while reading a Matson book. The Unexpected Everything was exactly what I was looking for right now.
It is the ultimate summer read, filled with hilarious, thrilling, and poignant characters that I won’t be forgetting anytime soon.
I thought I wasn’t going to enjoy this one as much as her last book because of the length, but Morgan Matson really knows how to make the pages fly by. Her pacing in books makes it completely unputdownable— She perfectly captures that feeling during those magical summer nights where time seemed to stop. Seriously, hours passed in what felt like seconds while reading this book.
This review contains *spoilers*.
The story all starts with a conference in front of Andie’s house, she’s the only daughter of a prominent congressman, who’s suddenly caught up in a scandal that threatens to upend not only his career but the next national election.
When you are a politician’s daughter who’s pretty much raised yourself, you learn everything can be planned or spun, or both. Especially your future.
But that was before the scandal. Before having to be in the same house with her dad. Before walking an insane number of dogs. That was before Clark and those few months that might change her whole life.
After the conference, Andie plans to leave home for the summer to participate in her pre-med (pre-pre-med-med) program, until an unfortunate phone call informs her that her perfect summer isn’t going to play out just as she’d planned.
Andie not willing to give up on her plans for a great summer yet, starts anew with a mysterious dog-walking job. Which I absolutely adored, especially when she met her boss, Maya, for the first time. I was smiling so much. So I just had to then spent some time on tumblr looking at cute dogs. And I’m still amazed with how utterly beautiful these pictures are:
While doing said dog-walking job, she meets Clark. And he turns out to be a lot more than Andie was expecting. Their meet-cute was hilarious with the whole Bertie the dog situation.
I also really liked Clark’s initial nervousness around Andie, especially when he tried to ask her out:
“I was just . . . trying to get a sense of your schedule.” He blinked, like he’d just heard himself, and I could see the tops of his ears were starting to turn red. “Wow, that sounded creepy. I didn’t mean that in, like, a weird way. I think I’m making this worse. Oh god.” He took a breath, then swallowed hard. “I was wondering, you know, what you do. At night.” He stared at me in horror after he said it, like he couldn’t quite believe the words had come out of his mouth. “Oh, man,” he muttered, closing his eyes behind his glasses for a moment. “This isn’t going well.”
I had to bite my lip to stop myself from smiling wide.”
Me too, Andie, me too…
Oh, and when her dad and Clark met I was laughing so hard and feeling just as baffled about Clark’s life.
“Dad, this is Clark Goetz-Hoffman,” I said, just as Clark said, “McCallister.”
“What?” I turned to look at him.
“Clark McCallister,” Clark said.
“I thought your last name was Goetz-Hoffman.”
“You two need a minute to confer?” my dad asked, looking between the two of us.”
Clark wrote the book, he wrote the book, he wrote the book—throughout The Unexpected Everything we got little snippets of another story called A Murder of Crows written by a certain C. B. McCallister.
And I was pretty impressed with him when I connected the dots. (Also, I’m really glad it was explained early on in the book and not dragged out.)
“I blinked at him, trying to figure this out. I had assumed Clark was my age, or close to it, though I was now starting to question everything. Because people who were my age, or close to it, didn’t write bestselling fantasy books. They didn’t have movies based on their books with huge movie stars in them. How was this even possible?
“I published the first one when I was fourteen,” Clark said, clearly reading the confusion on both our faces. He gave an embarrassed shrug. “Homeschooled kids have a lot of time on their hands.”
And even though their actual first date was really awkward, I’m glad it went that way because no insta-love.
“But it was too bad, I realized, as I looked at his profile, lit up by his dashboard light. He was really, really cute. And he seemed nice. But apparently, somehow, that wasn’t always enough. (I made a mental note to be sure to tell Toby, since this seemed to run counterintuitive to everything her Rom-Coms had told her.)”
It’s the first time I remember reading a book where the first date didn’t go in the most spectacular way. So thank you Morgan for that!
But they have a good talk with one another when Andie comes over because of Bertie. I was so glad the dog recovered. And also glad for the really nice conversations they had while watching over Bertie.
“As Clark went on, telling his story, I realized that I wasn’t trying to stop him, or control the conversation, or keep him from asking me something I didn’t want to answer. It was like talking to my friends—and I would just have to see where the conversation took me. And so, surprising myself, I leaned forward to listen.”
Matson really knows how to develop her romances because just them holding hands for the first time left my heart beating too damn fast.
“I took a breath to continue the story when Clark’s hand brushed against mine, and all the words left my head.
I wasn’t sure if it was an accident, so I kept my hand stretched down by my side, within easy reach, and what felt like a lifetime later, Clark’s hand brushed mine again, sending a spark through me that I felt all the way in my toes. He kept his hand touching mine, and then, moving a millimeter at a time, curved his fingers around so that they were resting against my palm, just brushing it, so lightly. Then he moved up, over the curve of my thumb, and ran his index finger over the inside of my wrist in a slow circle.”
Meanwhile, the whole deal Toby made with Palmer concerning her excessive use of emojis made me crack up.
“You need to dial it back,” Palmer said as she pulled out her phone. “Like this afternoon, you texted me ‘I’m so whale, dancing girl, dancing girl, blushing smiley, nervous-teeth smiley, star, star, pizza.’ ” She looked up from her phone. “What was that supposed to mean?”
Seriously so entertaining.
Also also, a Since You’ve Been Gone reference showed up:
“Whoa,” Palmer said, drawing back slightly from me, her expression surprised. “I mean,” she said, regrouping, “hi, Andie. Um . . . rough night?”
“Is it that bad?” I asked, tucking my hair behind my ears, slinking down farther in the booth. As I did, I caught the eye of a guy sitting across the restaurant and felt my stomach sink as he gave me a smile and a quick wave. It was Frank Porter, who I’d had a micro-crush on last year when I heard he broke up with his longtime girlfriend. But he came back to school in the fall so clearly besotted with Emily Hughes that I’d quashed my crush immediately. That still didn’t mean I wanted to look awful in front of him, though. He was sitting across from Matt Collins, who was saying something that made Frank laugh, and I turned my back on them.”
I’m so, so happy and I really want to reread it now.
“We’re doing a scavenger hunt, and we need something that has a business slogan with a pun,” I explained.
“Ah,” Dawn said, turning to Emily. “So you’re trying to check items off a list?” she asked, nudging her. “What’s that like?”
“Ignore my friend,” Emily said to us, rolling her eyes. “She’s inhaled too many pizza fumes today.”
I’ve missed them so much, why didn’t I reread it before picking this up???
And the references to Matson’s other books didn’t stop there, I was extremely giddy when all her characters randomly (and not so randomly) showed up. There were so many references and it made my heart lighter and my cheeks hurt from smiling too much. Thank you, thank you ,thank you.
And then when Andie finished Clark’s second book, I was cry-laughing over the texts she sent to her dad:
And then it gets even better:
“Palmer and Tom both looked at Clark. “What did you do?” she asked.
“He killed Tamsin,” I said, glowering at him, while across the table from me, Palmer’s jaw dropped.
“You what?” she gasped.
“Fictionally,” Clark explained hurriedly. “It’s not like she was a real person.”
“Clearly not, to you,” I huffed.
“You bastard,” Tom said, now glaring at Clark as well.
“Wait, why are you upset?” Clark asked, sounding baffled.
“Because it’s all coming back to me now,” he said, shaking his head at Clark. “Really, how could you have done that?”
I absolutely love them.
The texts in this book were spectacular. Morgan has something special in each of her books, and this one did not miss out!
And speaking of Andie’s friends, I was amazed with how well all their friendships were written. Their group dynamics were pretty much all I could think about. It was both complex and lighthearted at times, especially with Bri and Toby—it was so great reading about such a close friendship. And even when they took a break, I was really glad for it. I could really relate to them and am extremely grateful that Morgan Matson ended it in that way.
“Do you know how horrible I’ve felt over the last two weeks?” Toby asked, turning to look at all of us. “It’s been the worst time of my life. And I couldn’t even talk to my best friend about it, since it was her fault.”
“I felt the same way—” Bri started, but Toby talked over her.
“I realized I don’t know who I am if I’m not your friend,” she said. “Like I have no idea at all. And that’s a problem.”
“So that’s it?” Bri asked, and I could hear the fear beneath her words. “We’re done?”
“Yes,” Toby said, her voice cracking. “I can’t do this anymore. I’m done.”
I was definitely crushed, but this was something so real that I couldn’t help but agree.
“I didn’t know what my life looked like if we weren’t all still friends. It was a reality I couldn’t even fully grasp. For the last five years, it had been the four of us, what I had always believed to be an unshakable unit. The thought of not having them—the thought of some reality I might have to accept where I didn’t have them—was making me feel like I wanted to scream, cry, and throw up, all at the same time.”
Those parts really hit home for me.
“And it was Maya’s words, coupled with severe boredom and loneliness, that led me to reach for my phone and scroll through my contacts until I got to Topher.
Hey. You around?
It’s about time.”
So I have to mention it because it’s gonna really bother me if I don’t, but I absolutely hated Topher. I almost forgot that I did because we hadn’t focused on him for a while but the hate came back so quickly. Especially when he contacted her while she was with Clark. Topher just gave off a bad feeling.
“I could feel it happening, this pattern we always fell back into, but for some reason it didn’t feel like it normally did. It was feeling more like the time Bri accidentally took my shoes after a sleepover and I had to wear hers all day, aware with every step of how they didn’t fit me right.”
This description is so specific, yet weirdly relatable and accurate. How does Morgan do it??
She clearly has a talent for writing incredible friendships:
“You know you can always come by.” Palmer nodded and took a breath. But before she could speak, I jumped in. “I really, really messed up,” I said. “I’m so sorry.”
“I know it was coming from a good place,” Palmer said, shaking her head. “But—”
“I know,” I said. “I was trying to control everything, because the thought of not having you guys . . .” I let out a shaky breath. “But I shouldn’t have interfered like that.”
Palmer nodded. “I know you were trying to help, in your own, very not helpful way,” she said, and I smiled. “But I overreacted. And I’m sorry, Andie.”
I really liked that we got some closure with those two. And there was a short roadtrip towards the end, which I’m all for. (I really want to reread Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour.)
I just love how Morgan Matson weaves both friends and family in her books.
The situation with her dad started out rocky, but thanks to a supply of great movies and the warm weather, they started to bond— which, of course, melted my heart. I adore close families in books.
And I’m pretty happy with that ending, even if it was a bit cheesy. I can’t wait to read more of Matson’s future books, and hopefully reread her old ones.