Andie had it all planned out.
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.
Important internship? Check.
Amazing friends? Check.
Guys? Check (as long as we’re talking no more than three weeks)
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.
Because here’s the thing – if everything’s planned out, you can never find the unexpected.
And where’s the fun in that? – Goodreads
The Unexpected Everything is Morgan Matson’s fourth book, and it is her star. My ARC is littered in highlighted marks of passages and even a few wet marks from tears. Because here’s the thing, Matson writes well. She is one of the masters of contemporary literature for a reason and Unexpected Everything is the book you hold up to the light to remind people that.
The Unexpected Everything is the story of Andie, a girl after my own heart. She has diet coke running through her veins and eats a small variety of very bland foods to the point when my friend read this book there was a passage that made her go “Oh. Hello Ashley.” Andie is methodical and has a list to make her life orderly and easy. Of course her mother dying at a young age wasn’t expected and losing out on an internship was also unexpected. Instead of getting that perfect internship for her college applications she’s instead walking dogs.
Morgan makes it work, while I felt sad for Andie, the growth she had throughout this book was heartbreaking and amazing all at the same time. While she has her friends for the summer she’s a dog walker, which was never on her plan. However, that is another thing that friendships and family. While I could easily focus on the romantic relationship Andie has throughout the book, the relationship she has with her friends and father was of almost more importance to me.
Since her mother’s death, Andie’s father hasn’t been around. He was grieving in his own way and completely dropped the father ball and at page 235, Andie calls him out at it. “I haven’t had a father in five years.” She dropped that ball on him and then, like adults, they figure it out. Their relationship isn’t perfect. It’s messy and rough around the edges but I adored it. It reminded me how much I love parents in YA literature and how I think there needs to be more of it in YA literature.
Another thing that Matson does well is write friendships. Andie has a group of friends who have nothing in common, but also have everything in common. It’s not a perfect group and there are painful friend moments in which I cry. Because if I have learned anything growing up, friendship break ups are often harder than romantic breakups and Matson wrote about it so real that my heart went out to these characters, multiple times. I wanted to hold them and make them laugh.
“What are you saying?” I asked, my voice coming out unsteady. “That we’re all just done? Friendship over?”
She took a long drink and then set her cup back down. “I don’t know.” –pg 439, ARC
Of course, Matson knows how to write romance. There is just something swoony about her romance, and Clark is exactly what Andie needed in her life. She didn’t even know she needed him. Clark pushes her, he makes her summer better, he has his own background story, he gets along with her friends. He made me have heart eyes.
It’s you — of course it is. There you are. –pg 263, ARC
Morgan Matson is easily one of my favorite contemporary authors, hands down, no questions asked. That being said, I worried about The Unexpected Everything, because what if I didn’t love it? Those fears were unfounded, because not only did I love it. I cried and I rarely cry at books. This book had everything I wanted and more. It really was the unexpected everything.
P.S. I Still Love You (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before #2) by Jenny Han
Release Date: May 26, 2015
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Source: Personal Copy
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound
Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.
She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever.
When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?
In this charming and heartfelt sequel to the New York Times bestseller To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, we see first love through the eyes of the unforgettable Lara Jean. Love is never easy, but maybe that’s part of what makes it so amazing. – Goodreads
One of the hit books of 2014 was To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before and I too enjoyed it, but I was a firm believer it should have been a stand alone. What make this funny, to me, is the fact I actually enjoyed P.S. I Still Love You more than I enjoyed the first book in the duology. I found this book to be a stronger novel.
P.S. I Still Love You is the continuation of Lara Jean’s story. She is now dating Peter and figuring out this new life she has. Can she be the same person while she is dating Peter? Will everything be okay now that another boy she wrote a letter to has entered the picture? As much as I loathe love triangles, and I do (because WHY CAN’T TWO PEOPLE JUST BE IN LOVE?!) I didn’t find the boy from Lara Jean’s past to be the real hinderance in the relationship between Lara Jean and Peter. It was Peter’s past. His relationship with his previous girlfriend is still very much something that bothers Lara Jean.
I was much more effected by the storyline in P.S. than I was in To All The Boys. My heart went out to both Lara Jean and Peter when she yells at him that she just wants to be someone’s number one girl. I may have teared up a bit because both of them are laying their hearts on the line, but first love is painful and not always pretty and wrapped in a neat bow.
What I also enjoyed about P.S. was that it was still about Lara Jean’s relationships with her dad and her sisters. They are a very important part of Lara Jean’s life and that dynamic shows. It was real and completely believable. There were little fights, there was yelling, but there was also love. Throughout the entire book there was so much love and it went to show that love isn’t always nice and neat. Someone may not love you in the way they love you, but they still love you.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before #1) by Jenny Han
Release Date: April 15, 2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound
Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control in this heartfelt novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Summer I Turned Pretty series.
What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them… all at once?
Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control. – Goodreads
I went into this book with fairly high hopes, and I spent most of the book disappointed. Lara Jean is a normal American teenager who has two sisters and a dad. Her mother died a few years ago in a freak accident and from that very moment, her older sister took on the role of mother and Lara Jean just kind of floated. She has spent most of her teenage life in love with her older sister’s boyfriend, Josh, to the point she wrote him a letter. A letter to let go of him. She has done it five times total and it is what makes her and her heart free.
What happens of course is those five letters get sent and those five boys now all know things they are not supposed to know. One of those boys in Peter, who becomes a key player throughout the novel. No one really seems to like Peter. He’s cocky and that puts off people, including Josh. Lara Jean and Peter however get along, they even get along after Lara Jean’s letter to Peter gets sent and he reads it.
This letter causes them to make a fake a relationship to make Josh jealous and Peter’s ex jealous. Of course, over time they slowly begin to have feelings for each other. The problem is, I never believed it. I never really believed the relationship between Lara Jean and Peter or even Lara Jean and Josh. What also bothered me is Lara Jean seems to have one female friend outside of her friendship with her sisters and it is made very clear multiple times that Chris, the female friend, is a huge slut and an overall horrible human being.
Most of this book I had this giant shaking rage over what was going on. It took about 80% of the book for me to slow down and breathe and start to enjoy the book, but by then I was too annoyed to really care. While it is still a solid book, and I enjoyed it. The problematic aspects of it, to me, made it hard for me to truly enjoy. I spent more of the book wanting to slap Lara Jean than be her friend. I understand that is not something that is required to enjoy a book, but at this time in my life, it made it hard to really ultimately enjoy.
Love, tragedy, and mystery converge in this compelling novel from “an author to watch” (Booklist).
Seventeen-year-old Parker Frost has never taken the road less traveled. Valedictorian and quintessential good girl, she’s about to graduate high school without ever having kissed her crush or broken the rules. So when fate drops a clue in her lap—one that might be the key to unraveling a town mystery—she decides to take a chance.
Julianna Farnetti and Shane Cruz are remembered as the golden couple of Summit Lakes High—perfect in every way, meant to be together forever. But Julianna’s journal tells a different story—one of doubts about Shane and a forbidden romance with an older, artistic guy. These are the secrets that were swept away with her the night that Shane’s jeep plunged into an icy river, leaving behind a grieving town and no bodies to bury.
Reading Julianna’s journal gives Parker the courage to start to really live—and it also gives her reasons to question what really happened the night of the accident. Armed with clues from the past, Parker enlists the help of her best friend, Kat, and Trevor, her longtime crush, to track down some leads. The mystery ends up taking Parker places that she never could have imagined. And she soon finds that taking the road less traveled makes all the difference. – Goodreads
This is hands down the perfect contemporary for me. I could have enjoyed a wee bit more romance, but seriously. This is the almost perfect Ashley novel. Parker is what I consider to be a normal teen, although many won’t. She does whatever her mother asks of her, she is valedictorian of her class, she never has that one moment where she seizes the day, even though her best friend Kat NEEDS HER TO SEIZE THE DAY. I went to high school with that girl, heck, I was good friends with that girl, that girl could have been me. (While I wasn’t valedictorian, I was in the honors classes, etc.)
Kat is the perfect yin to Parker’s yang. Parker knows she is going to get out of this teeny tiny town and move on to ‘bigger’ and better things, while Kat knows, and is accepting of the fact, that she is stuck in this town just like her mother was. What this town has is the folklore of the couple a decade earlier. The perfect couple, Barbie and Ken, who proceeded to mysteriously die. While this doesn’t affect Parker at first, it finally does when Parker is helping a teacher with his project and comes upon Julianna’s journal. While Parker knows she shouldn’t, she opens it up and reads it. This step ultimately changes her life.
Along with Kat and the adorable Trevor, Parker takes this quest and ultimately becomes this person that she finally likes. I related so much to Parker’s journey because there were a lot of parallels to my own journey in life. I recently told Tina that for the first time in 25 years, that I can remember, I like who I am. And Tina, being my awesome cheerleader in life, is all GOOD FOR YOU. Because Tina has seen me at my lowest. She is my Kat. She is the one who has made me be a better person because she has gotten emails from me crying, and maybe even a call or two. Not sure about the last one, because calls are so few and far between. A lot of my friends could be Kat. Kat wants Parker to live for Parker. Not live for Parker’s mom, who is a wee bit bitter at everything.
And she does. Kat makes Parker live. Makes her take that giant leap of faith and jump, and what was nice was Trevor, because Trevor was Trevor and Parker was oblivious, because Trevor couldn’t like her. Right?
This book will not be perfect for everyone, Tina would probably read this and hate her life. It’s contemp. It has a bit of a love story. But for me, this was the perfect end of summer read.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Release Date: February 21, 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound
A lyrical novel about family and friendship from critically acclaimed author Benjamin Alire Sáenz.
Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be. – Goodreads
To be honest, I’m not sure why I picked this book up. What I do know is I’m glad I did. This book changed my life. I read it in one sitting in three hours. I could not put it down. This is the story of Aristotle. Aristotle is an angry teen who doesn’t know how to love, is a loner (and somewhat proud of this fact), and has a fairly rough family life. His father came back from Vietnam a changed man, his mother tries to understand, his sisters are much older than him (and often remind him about the age difference between them all), his brother went to jail and his family has decided to forget him and cut him out of their lives. Dante is a know-it-all who gets along with his parents and has a really good home life. This changes is one day the two meet at the local pool.
The two quickly bond and become fast friends. What the two of them don’t know is how much that summer changes the two of them. In most of the book Dante actually leaves Aristotle and the friendship for his father’s job, and still has a lasting effect on Aristotle.
At the Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, you will definitely learn your lesson. A dark, timeless, and heartfelt novel for fans of Coraline and The Mysterious Benedict Society.
Victoria hates nonsense. There is no need for it when your life is perfect. The only smudge on her pristine life is her best friend Lawrence. He is a disaster—lazy and dreamy, shirt always untucked, obsessed with his silly piano. Victoria often wonders why she ever bothered being his friend. (Lawrence does too.)
But then Lawrence goes missing. And he’s not the only one. Victoria soon discovers that The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls is not what it appears to be. Kids go in but come out…different. Or they don’t come out at all.
If anyone can sort this out, it’s Victoria—even if it means getting a little messy. – Goodreads
This book came highly recommended to me by one of my dear friends. Even with that recommendation I was wary of starting. Mostly because my TBR list is already forever long and I put a lot of thought into adding another book to the list. Okay, who are we kidding, of course I add a lot of books to it. Reason my Goodreads list is currently pushing 400. All of that being said, I am thrilled my friend recommended this book to me. I can tell you I would have never ever picked this up on my own for various reasons; however, I am glad I did. This is a really good/thrilling YA book.
The Cavendish Home For Boys and Girls is at its heart the story of Victoria. Victoria who hates most things, including her only true friend Lawrence. She doesn’t even consider Lawrence a friend, she considers him a project that she needs to fix because he isn’t perfect and often troublesome (to her). One day, however, Lawrence disappears. His parents have a cover story, but even to Victoria the story sounds fake. She is convinced there is more to this story than Lawrence’s parents are letting on. This becomes more obvious when more of Victoria’s class disappears.
Victoria starts to research this when it becomes obvious. She notices people go into the Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, but they rarely come out. When Victoria begins to research this, she notices she has much in common with the owner of the home, Mrs. Cavendish. This is a fact that ends up worrying Victoria, because she hates who Mrs. Cavendish is. Slowly Victoria herself becomes trapped in the Home and starts to break her down. Victoria, the one who always must be strong, starts to break down because of what the house, and Mrs. Cavendish, do to people once they become stuck there.
The ending is amazing and very fitting to the story and will make you look at common aspects of your house twice. Also, have I mentioned the illustrations? They are perfect and even fit the story perfectly. Sarah Watts perfectly captured the tone of the story in an illustration. I only wish Legrand had other YA/MG books out right now for me to read