Matson, Morgan. The Unexpected Everything.

NY: Simon & Schuster, 2016.

This author has earned a place on my “dependable authors” short list when it comes to YA novels. She can take a well-used trope — in this case, the “living with a famous father” theme — and turn it into something original, with well-drawn, in-depth characters. And then she stirs in some off-the-wall, highly cinematic scenes and adroit dialogue, just to keep you hooked.

So, it’s the beginning of the summer after her junior year and seventeen-year-old Andi Walker of Connecticut has everything planned out, as she always does. She’s headed for a scholars’ program at Johns Hopkins that should guarantee her entry into the pre-med program when she graduates next year. Her father is a U.S. Congressman and he’s always busy and seldom home, and her mother died five years ago, so she’s used to doing everything for herself, but she manages very nicely with the support of her three best friends.

But then there’s a financial scandal in Washington and her suddenly beleaguered father has to take a leave of absence from Congress while it’s being investigated, And as part of the fallout, her place in the scholars’ program is suddenly withdrawn the day before she was supposed to leave for Baltimore. Abruptly, she’s entirely at loose ends with an empty summer ahead — all the good internships and meaningful jobs are long gone — and her father is going to be underfoot all day, every day. She may have to wing it for the summer.

The only thing she can find for herself to do, in fact, is a gig walking dogs. But what about that really good-looking young guy with the friendly Great Pyrenees? She wouldn’t mind getting to know him — but only for three weeks, because that’s the maximum amount of time she allows herself in any relationship, Anything longer could lead to complications, like actually sharing her life with someone else. But Clark is going to turn out to be far, far more of a wild card than she could ever have expected, in both his own life and in hers.

This one is rather longer than the typical Young Adult summer romance and Matson goes into considerable depth in examining Andi’s life and personal world, the complex relationships in her tightly knit group of friends, and dealing with loss and with distance from family. The character of Clark, a successful author at a young age, is also nicely handled, as is the later crisis that threatens her friendships. And the ending of it all isn’t going to be neat and tidy. This one is highly recommended.

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