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The Unexpected Everything Hardcover – May 3, 2016
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An Interview with Jenny Han, Siobhan Vivian, and Morgan Matson
From late nights studying together in graduate school to late nights trying to meet their publishers’ deadlines, Jenny Han, Morgan Matson, and Siobhan Vivian have stuck together through it all. Find out how this trio of YA writing powerhouses met, why friendship is so central in their stories and in their lives, and, most importantly, which of their characters would fall in love with each other.
How did the three of you become friends and why do you feel it’s important to have a close group of supportive friends?
MM: We all met in graduate school in New York City a decade ago! And we’ve stayed friends ever since.
SV: Dude. Was that really ten years ago? Feels like ten minutes.
MM: I know. I didn’t want to believe it either.
JH: In some ways it feels like twenty years ago to me! What I really love is that even though the three of us no longer live in the same city, we still go away on writing retreats together and do book tours together. Our books keep us close.
MM: Jenny organizes the most amazing writing retreats. We all hang out and write and catch up. It’s a yearly highlight.
SV: I feel it’s so important to have friends who understand this weird thing we all do. I can ask Morgan and Jenny anything…from the business side (is this deal point in my contract too aggressive?) to the creative side (where’s a fun place my two characters can make out?).
MM: And it’s so great to have friends you can text when you need story advice, or just to commiserate with someone who understands the process. It makes what can be a pretty solitary job feel a lot less so. Also, Jenny is a genius book-title-er.
Do the three of you have similar or different creative styles? Do you approach writing your books in a similar way?
JH: We have really different creative styles. I write a first draft almost like a series of vignettes, never in order. It's very spare. I figure out the shape of the book as I piece it all together.
SV: I think Morgan’s a lot like me, because she also has a background in screenplay writing, and we enjoy thinking about structure, all the narrative places a story could potentially go.
MM: It’s true! And as for my process, I can’t write out of order—I need to write in a linear fashion, straight through to the end. And I don’t really have an outline. I have a vague idea of where I want to go, but that’s it. I like getting some surprises along the way.
SV: Same here. I feel like Jenny intimately knows her characters from the first page, whereas I have to put them on a journey and make them do stuff in order to discover who they are.
Which characters from your respective books do you feel would be friends with each other? Who would get along the best? Would any of your characters have crushes on each other?
SV: I’ll say that John McClaren from To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and Levi Hamrick from The Last Boy and Girl in the World would be friends. They both have a quiet nerdy confidence about them.
MM: I think Andie from The Unexpected Everything would definitely have a crush on Jesse Ford from The Last Boy and Girl!
SV: I was thinking that also, but I don’t think Andie and Taylor from the Summer series could be friends IRL. Andie is like a dressage show horse and Taylor is like a wild pony.
JH: Natalie from Not That Kind of Girl would be friends with Margot from To All The Boys I've Loved Before. They're both driven, high-achieving girls with bright futures.
MM: Emily from Since You’ve Been Gone would totally be friends with Lara Jean from To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You. I think they have similar personality types! I can see them hanging out at home together and cooking.
JH: I can also see Lara Jean having a crush on Roger from Amy & Roger's Epic Detour because—mix tapes!
MM: Lara Jean would introduce him to doo-wop girl groups and Roger’s life would never be the same.
What’s the one piece of advice you would like to give aspiring writers that you wish you had when you first started out?
JH: I would tell them not to be in a rush. Because, yes, it is absolutely amazing to be able to write for a living, but there is also something truly wonderful about writing just for you, just because you have to, because you can't not.
MM: Read a lot, and write a lot. Don’t expect to be a perfect writer on the first try—writing is a skill, and just like any other skill, you get better at it the more you do it!
SV: Find friends who will support you, who understand your work, and who know how to get the best writing out of you. You don’t have to do it alone! That’s what keeps the three of us together.
From School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—Andie Walker had planned to spend her summer in the Young Scholars Program at Johns Hopkins with other aspiring doctors. Unfortunately, when her politician father gets caught up in a minor financial scandal, the campaign contributor who recommended her for the program pulls his support and Andie is left facing a long summer at home in Connecticut. All of the internships and summer jobs that could have helped bolster her college applications have long since been filled, so Andie takes a job walking dogs to fill her days while her friends give tours at the local museum and manage community theater productions. Andie and her dad haven't spent much time together since her artist mother's death, and navigating their new day-to-day routine is difficult for both of them. And though the teen has long had an ironclad rule about keeping relationships with guys under three weeks, cute, awkward Clark has her rethinking it. The most interesting things tend to happen when plans are upended, and Andie's story is no exception. Though the outcomes will hold few surprises for most readers, it's a genuine pleasure to watch Andie explore her relationships with her father, her friends, and Clark (especially once his delightful secret is revealed) and to see her channel her smarts and ambition into new career goals. VERDICT Recommended for libraries where light realistic fiction is popular.—Stephanie Klose, Library Journal
Top customer reviews
The Unexpected Everything is the story of Andie, the daughter of a congressman that is currently being investigated. Andie has always had a plan. It was the easiest way to live life. If she knew what was coming she didn't have to figure out what to do. But this summer is anything but typical for Andie. Instead of her plan she finds herself spending the summer in a way she never expected and maybe learning life is sometimes better lived when you don't know what's coming.
This book put me through a gamut of emotions. I laughed and smiled and cringed and cried. I was angry and upset and excited. I felt everything that was happening much like Andie did. I felt like I was part of Andie's journey and I loved that. Because really that is what The Unexpected Everything was about, Andie's journey. She was so certain she could plan and schedule things but life isn't like that and she needed the summer she had to prove that to herself. She needed everything that happened with her friends to happen. She needed to have real conversations with people. She needed to see that life happens when you are waiting on plans unless you do something and live it. And she really needed Clark.
Clark, Clark, Clark. Nerdy and adorable and sweet and unsure. He is everything that is right about swoony book boys and he was the perfect counterpart for Andie. They were complete opposites but there was something magical about them together. And awkward. Man were they awkward at times. Eh, it just made them more endearing. But seriously Clark really helped Andie in her summer of the unknown by actually being part of the unknown. I just loved him. Oh and Andie's friends. They were such a great unit. They too were real and some of their story arcs just broke my heart (I'm looking at you Morgan. Making me cry at jury duty!).
I don't want to give too much away and take anything from this masterpiece. It was really just perfect. From the characters to a familiar location (!!!!!!!) to some familiar mentions (!!!!!) there wasn't anything I didn't love about this story and Andie's growth. All I can say is if you are new to Morgan Matson, start at the beginning and read them all. If you are a Morgan fan...you are in for a reading treat.
I think the thing that hit closest to home is Andie’s relationship with her father, who is a big shot politician. In the beginning of the book, he’s taking a break from his campaign and we can tell that he’s not a big aspect of Andie’s life. They’re not close, even though she’s always watching what she does so no consequences will befall his political career. I mean, the girl’s heading for a summer program at John Hopkin’s even. Well, those plans fall through and she finds herself, from the unlikeliest of events: dog-walking.
The beginning of this book was a little slow as we get to know Andie’s world, including her friends: Bri, Toby, and Palmer as well as the other characters that shape her life. I really can’t get over how realistic their friendship is, and how reminiscent they are of my own life. There’s definitely a butt load of good times, and there are also not-so-good times. We find that people change, and others just drift even though a group has been together for years. And honestly, that’s something that happened not recently to a group of friends in my own circle of acquaintances. I laughed with them, my heart ached for them in all the best ways, and these characters will definitely stick with me for quite a while.
As Andie’s father takes a break from his job, they also become closer. And wow, reading about them really pulled at my heartstrings. In the beginning they’re really awkward with each other, but they slowly discover things about each other that they never knew before. All it takes is the time to talk it out sometimes, you know?
“You have to take your chances. Go and attempt and see what happens. And even if you fail – especially if you fail – come back with your experience and your hard-won knowledge and a story you can tell.”
The romance just filled my heart so much. Clark’s character is really interesting and he’s just so awkward and adorable and ERGH I want one in my own life. He’s extremely compatible with Andie, and they just strengthen each other. It’s also interesting to read about his own struggles as a famous writer in the story. Let’s just say that their relationship gave me all the feels and you’ll have to read the book to fully experience it.
Overall, all this contributed to the growth of Andie’s character. I loved reading about the changes happening to her and comparing her actions in the beginning of the book to those in the end. I mean, I liked her character from the beginning, with her controlling Type-A personality and drive to accomplish things. Throughout the story though, she realizes that sometimes you don’t need a plan to get to the final point.
“So have adventures. Go exploring. Drive around at midnight. Feel the wind running through your hair. Life is so short, my darling, And there’s no day like today.”
Reading this book was like the first bite of sherbet ice cream in the middle of summer – it’s packed with flavor and provides a delicious and refreshing story in the midst of an idle season. The moment I finished reading the last sentence (well, after several times of rereading it to savor the words), I went to preorder it. I recommend this book to all readers, no matter what type of genre you prefer, and can only hope that it touches your heart the way it did mine.
Most recent customer reviews
Of course, I enjoyed this book. It took me a while to read, but it still pulled me back in every time I picked it up. A very fun read.Read more