In The Unexpected Everything , Morgan Matson introduces readers to Andie, a hyper-organized, type-A girl who always has a plan. Always. So what happens when her father, a congressman, gets embroiled in a political scandal that destroys Andie's world order and forces her to reexamine her entire summer... and life? Well, that unexpected turn of events forces Andie to look at everything a little bit differently. Maybe she does want to take the time to get to know her super busy, mostly absent father. Maybe she does want a relationship that lasts longer than few weeks. But most importantly, maybe she does want to spend her summer with her amazing best friends.
For Matson, writing realistic teenage friendships speaks to her own experience growing up. "I think it’s incredibly important to show female friendships in YA," she tells Bustle. "I had a really close group of friends in high school, and we’re all still in each other’s lives. Meanwhile, I’m still friends on Facebook with some of my high school boyfriends, but they ended up not being nearly as important. And even when I was in high school, my girlfriends were the constants in my life — not romances that popped up here and there."
This weekend, she'll further the discuss the importance of friendships in YA lit during a BookCon panel with fellow authors Jenny Han, author of P.S. I Still Love You, and Siobhan Vivian, author of The Last Boy And Girl In The World. The three will also chat about strong female characters and summer love — both of which feature prominently in Matson's latest novel.
While The Unexpected Everything does feature an adorable romance (trust me: you'll fall hard for the awkward, adorable Clark!), the novel is about more than summer love. In fact, Matson delves into one pretty serious issue: Andie's relationship with her father. Her dad isn't a bad guy; he just isn't around a whole lot."I really wanted to show a relationship that wasn't super dysfunctional or terrible at the beginning," she says. "There wasn't a huge issue — more just a distance between Andie and her dad that needed to be closed. And I do always like the idea of parents getting to know their kids and kids getting to know their parents."
Through her relationship with Clark, her father, and her friends, Andie learns that enjoying life and embracing happiness sometimes means abandoning your plan and embracing the unexpected. That's something Matson can speak to with authority. "The summer before my freshman year in college, I had a job all lined up – I got it in the spring, and thought I had my whole summer planned out," she says. "But I got fired after the first week. Whoops. But then I ended up getting a job along with one of my best friends, and it turned into the greatest summer. We had such a blast. It was one time when the unexpected worked out for the best."
This summer, Matson has a definite plan: She wants dive into some good books, including The Last Boy And Girl In The World by Siobhan Vivian, When We Collided by Emory Lord, and Summer Days And Summer Nights edited by Stephanie Perkins; work on her untitled new book, which follows the youngest girl in a family as they come together for a wedding during spring break; and meet readers, fans, and fellow authors at this year's BookCon, where she'll participate in signings and panels on young adult literature. For a full list of events, visit BookCon's official website.