The Unexpected Everything by Morgan MatsonThe Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

The Unexpected Everything

byMorgan Matson

Hardcover | May 3, 2016

Pricing and Purchase Info

$21.35 online 
$23.99 list price save 11%
Earn 107 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store


In stock online

Ships free on orders over $25

Not available in stores


A New York Times bestseller!

From Morgan Matson, the bestselling author of Since You’ve Been Gone comes a feel-good story of friendship, finding yourself, and all the joys in life that happen while you’re busy making other plans.

Andie has a plan. And she always sticks to her plan.

Future? A top-tier medical school.
Dad? Avoid him as much as possible (which isn’t that hard considering he’s a Congressman and he’s never around).
Friends? Palmer, Bri, and Toby—pretty much the most awesome people on the planet, who needs anyone else?
Relationships? No one’s worth more than three weeks.

So it’s no surprise that Andie’s got her summer all planned out too.

Until a political scandal costs Andie her summer pre-med internship, and lands both she and Dad back in the same house together for the first time in years. Suddenly she’s doing things that aren’t Andie at all—working as a dog walker, doing an epic scavenger hunt with her dad, and maybe, just maybe, letting the super cute Clark get closer than she expected. Palmer, Bri, and Toby tell her to embrace all the chaos, but can she really let go of her control?
Morgan Matson was born in 1981 and grew up in New York City and Greenwich, Connecticut. She attended Occidental College in Los Angeles and obtained Theater/English degree. Following college graduation she moved back East to attend the New School, where she received her M.F.A in Writing for Children. Morgan's first book, Amy & Roger's E...
Title:The Unexpected EverythingFormat:HardcoverDimensions:528 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 1.6 inPublished:May 3, 2016Publisher:Simon & Schuster Books for Young ReadersLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1481404547

ISBN - 13:9781481404549


Rated 4 out of 5 by from Liked it Morgan Matson writes the most amazing contemporary books. A great summer read!
Date published: 2019-02-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Love this book! Such a great book, I love Clark so much, another great summer read from this author.
Date published: 2018-08-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Really cute cover! The Unexpected Everything is probably my least favourite Morgan Matson book because of the slow pacing and length. However, I still enjoyed it a lot and the cover is really cute. Some of the decisions Andie makes throughout the novel were quite frustrating but Clark's character made up for that.
Date published: 2018-08-03
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Review posted on Fafa's Book Corner! Beware spoilers ahead! The Unexpected Everything was recommended to me by my dear friend on GR Mith! Click on her name to read her review. At the time this was coming out I'd already read Matson's contemporary books. Of course when I heard about The Unexpected Everything I added it to my TBR. I am happy to say that I enjoyed it! I read The Unexpected Everything back in June 2016. I don't really remember a majority of the details that well. Andie's fathers campaign has a money scandal. Due to this she can't participate in her internship program. As that was lined up using her father's connections. Instead Andie meets Clark and applies for a dog walking job. I liked The Unexpected Everything! Objectively speaking this is Matson's best work. The Unexpected Everything is written in first person following Andy's point of view. There are text messages that have emoji's, books quotes, and flashbacks. The dogs were so much fun to read about! Each dog had his/her own personality. Andie's job is quite rare in YA. Initially Andie didn't enjoy the job. She grew to love all the dogs and the job itself. The friendship was amazing! Andie and her friends were so close. They all supported each other. It's really nice to read a YA contemporary without all the girl-hate. The drama that does happen was realistic and handled well. I like to think that Tody and Bri do make-up. Andie and her father's relationship is complicated. When Andie was young her mother passed away. Since then her and her father have been distant and barely communicate with one-another. Throughout The Unexpected Everything Andie and her father mend their relationship. It was absolutely beautiful! If you've read any of Matson's books you'll that she seems to have a love-hate relationship with the fathers in her books. This is evident in Amy and Roger's Epic Detour and Second Chance Summer. Matson redeemed that in this book. Andie and Clark's relationship was so cute! They have sort of an insta-attraction when they meet. Initially the relationship didn't seem likely to workout due to how guarded Andie is. They got an opportunity to open up to each other and that definitely helped. They each grow from their relationship. Andie comes to appreciate her father more based on Clark's relationship with his father. I especially enjoyed reading about Clark's relationship with Andie's friends. My favourite was Clark's relationship with Andie's father. Also Clark is the author behind those quotes throughout the book. I didn't know this in the beginning so I actually tried looking up his name on google. Andie was actually frustrating to read about in the beginning. She was very guarded when it came to her relationships. Specifically of the romance kind. Andie also likes to be in control of everything. Which does lead to the major conflict. Through her relationships with her friends, Clark, her co-workers, and her father Andie begins to open up more. This causes her to come to some realizations about herself.  This is going to get a bit personal so here goes. I saw a lot of myself in Andie. I too like to be prepared and in control of most situations. Once I came to this realization I took a break from blogging. I wasn't happy that my life had pretty much become about books. I felt way too much pressure about reviewing and how many books I would read in a month. No one else put that pressure on me. I did that to myself. It was a much needed break. And now I've come back happy.  My only problem was that sometimes it dragged. Honestly there were times while reading that I wanted to sleep. I couldn't rate it higher because I didn't love it. While I can acknowledge that it is Matson's best book, it's just not my favourite. Overall I enjoyed The Unexpected Everything! I highly recommend it. 
Date published: 2018-04-14
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Light summer read I ended up liking this book, but I admit I had a hard time reading it and was quite slow to finish. I didn't really connect with the characters. I totally understand why so many people love this book but it just was not for me! The parts I loved the most were the ones about the relationship between Andie and her father. I had fun with the emojis and textos, so I'm glad Morgan Matson insisted to include them because these details made a difference! Overall, I would recommend it to anyone in need of a romance/cute read!
Date published: 2017-09-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great summer read My parents dragged me to a lake today since it's a warm summer day and I just recently graduated high school. I had to decide on my very first book of the summer. I needed something contemporary, light-hearted but not childish and shallow. So I chose this book. I've been hearing a lot about Morgan Matson books lately and this was the only book by her that I had. I was not disappointed. It was a very sweet book if one only focused on the romance aspect. But I liked how it also focused just as much on friendship and family. I felt Bri, Toby, Palmer, and Andie's chemistry bouncing off the pages. Her unbearably awkward relationship with her distant father was also very evident from the first few pages only. It was so much fun seeing Andie's relationship with Clark, her friends and family kept changing throughout the book. I loved every minute of it and I was not surprised when I had finished it in one day. It wasn't the perfect book. I guessed a lot of what would happen in the book early on and I also feel like there were a lot of loose ends at the end of the book. But this book made me laugh out loud and cry when I was laying in the sun surrounded by people who were enjoying the lake. It may have seemed like I should've went in the water but I don't think I wasted my day at all. (less)
Date published: 2017-07-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Adorable! Such a cute story, very very addicting!
Date published: 2017-04-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good read I really liked all the characters in this book and enjoyed reading it .
Date published: 2017-04-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Loved!!! This book had a pretty long intro bur I found myself getting more attached to the book the more that I read it. I loved the story and the characters. It's the perfect summer read!
Date published: 2017-04-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This is the only book from this authour I have read, but am dying to read more! Overall most favourite book that I have read this year. It is the perfect amount of cheezy love story, wrapped up in a story that I have not really have read in YA. It is super cute and the perfect summer beach read. Would read again (and planning on reading again and again). Good job Matson!
Date published: 2017-04-06
Rated 2 out of 5 by from I tried to give Morgan Matson another chance... After the difficulty and disappointment of reading through half of Amy and Roger's Epic Detour, I decided to try another one of these author's books. This one had such beautiful cover design, and the story seemed interesting and it looked promising. I made it through the first few chapters before getting completely bored. I know I'm the minority opinion but her writing is just not for me. I gave this book an extra star for the benefit of doubt. Maybe if I didn't give up it would be better but I doubt it.
Date published: 2017-03-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great! Such a cute and fun read. Loved the SInce you've been gone reference.
Date published: 2017-02-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing! I love Morgan Matson and this book does not disappoint compared to the others! The characters are fun and real. There's the same emotion as some of her other books but isn't quite as heartbreaking.
Date published: 2017-01-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fun Summer Read Loved the brief references to the characters from Since You've Been Gone. Very sweet book.
Date published: 2017-01-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from !! I really enjoyed reading this book! It was cute and the perfect summer read!
Date published: 2017-01-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from This was such a good read! The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson | noun | 1. a book that is the pure definition of summer and everything that it holds. 2. a book that features tons of cute dogs where readers grow overly attached to them. 3. a beautiful story of friendship, real love and all of the good stuff in life. So at times, this book dragged. It became boring and I just wanted that boring phase to get by before the good stuff came around. There were those every now and then, and I honestly wanted this book to be perfect, and to be honest, it wasn't fully. But I still loved it. IT'S TOO LONG, ALTHOUGH I LOVE MORGAN'S WRITING. If this were fantasy... that'd be a different story.
Date published: 2016-12-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Dogs!!! Perfect summer read! There's dogs, a swoony romance, fun games with friends... What could you want more?
Date published: 2016-12-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from good i really enjoy morgan matson books, and this was no exception. i read this in the summer and it was the perfect light, fun read.
Date published: 2016-11-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it! I loved this book so much. It's a amazing read to enjoy over the summer. The characters are fun to read about and despite certain cringe worthy choices, I couldn't put it down. It was way to fun and romantic and funny. Overall, enjoyed it very much and highly recommend!
Date published: 2016-11-21
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good book to end summer I was quite frustrated with some of Andie's choices but I still enjoyed this story and her friendships. #plumreview
Date published: 2016-11-20
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Expect everything This book was ironically predictable but it was still very enjoyable. I found myself being frustrated at some of Andie's choices. Still a great summer read. I also really liked her friendships with her friends.
Date published: 2016-11-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely loved this! This was the first Morgan Matson book that I read and i have got to say, it was addicting. The story, the characters, the character development and oh so many lovely scenes that will make you swoon. Andie and Clark's relationship is adorable, relatable and you're constantly rooting for them. It's honestly such a great book and if you're going to read one Morgan Matson book this year, it should be the Unexpected Everything. You will love it, especially if you're a diehard fan of funny, romantic and heartwarming contemporary. Highly highly recommend!
Date published: 2016-11-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it! Amazing contemporary. If you liked Since You've Been Gone, you're sure to like this. Similar writing style to Morgan's other books, this book has a multitude of things going on. Some reviews I've read say there is no real plot. That really depends on how the reader perceives the story. Read between the lines of the relationships between the characters, see the subtle story arcs, character development and realistic relationships for what they are, plot. Just because Morgan doesn't necessarily follow the usual structured plot outline, doesn't mean there isn't a plot. If you dive into the words and the worlds you'll discover much more than if you are just looking for a 2-D plot that just sticks out at you.
Date published: 2016-11-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Another amazing read by Ms. Matson! There's honestly just something about Morgan Matson's books that makes her the all time queen of contemporaries, and this one was definitely no exception. The Unexpected Everything is a poignant tale of family issues, friendship, and first love, all with the background of the aspects of summer vacation that everyone adores. This just might be my favorite book yet of hers, and I cannot recommend all of her books enough to anyone looking for a new contemporary read. Morgan Matson continues to be one of my favorite authors of all time.
Date published: 2016-11-17
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Cute Summer Read I was very looking forward to reading this book, so I read it as soon as it released. I liked the main character Andie and her relationships with her father, friends, and Clark. I loved the dog aspect and it was all very cute and adorable. It was refreshing to read about postive girl friendship! I really enjoyed that part. I just found the book a bit long and the pacing was slow at times. Nothing was happening in the middle and I felt like it was dragging. But overall, I think this would be a great summer read.
Date published: 2016-11-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Wonderful! Thanks to goodreads and the publisher for a free copy of The Unexpected Everything! This is possibly the best young adult romance I've ever read. I had high hopes when I picked up the book -- so many people have told me wonderful things about Morgan Matson -- but the book still exceeded them. So, in no particular order, here is a list of things that I loved: - A focus on strong friendships between teenage girls... - well as addressing when a friendship becomes unhealthy - Politics. Seriously, I love it when a main character's parent is involved with politics. There's something about hte performative aspect, and the feeling that maybe the children are being used for show, that I find really compelling. - DOGS. - A fantastically-written homeschooled character. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to get my hands on Morgan Matson's other books.
Date published: 2016-11-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Cute & quirky read The characters in this novel really bring this story alive. You'll feel like you're a part of the friend group and you'll really feel for them all. A great read, especially for the summertime or when you're in need of a summer escape.
Date published: 2016-11-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I lovedddd it ! This book was highly anticpated by me. Once i finally got it i saw how HUGE it was and i was super excited. The first 100 pages where kind of slow for me but once i got past it i was loving it so much. If you love contemporary and Love Morgan Matson you should pick it up!
Date published: 2016-08-31
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Super cute! At first i found it hard to really get into the novel and i wasn't attached right away, but as i continued to read i grew more and more interested and ended up finishing it in 3 days! The book ended up being so cute and full of life. After reading it i have to admit i was a little disappointed that i didn't have a friend group as cool as Andy's and a quirky, cute and awkward boy like Clark. It was really fun to read and i recommend it to anyone who is looking for something light but meaningful to read.
Date published: 2016-08-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My new favourite Morgan Matson book! I really liked Morgan Matson’s Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour, and totally loved Since You’ve Been Gone, so I was really excited to read this new book of hers. And guess what? It’s my new favourite Morgan Matson book! There was so much to love about this book, from the focus on friendship and Andie’s relationship with her dad to the dogs (I love Bertie!) and the romance, the great writing, and the way Morgan Matson somehow captures the feeling of summer in this book. My ARC was a little over 500 pages, and I read this book in two days. And then immediately wanted to read it again when I finished. I just absolutely loved Andie’s story and being caught up in her world, and I didn’t want it to end! My reading preferences tend to lean more towards fantasy, supernatural/paranormal, and science fiction stories rather than contemporary, but Morgan Matson has consistently been an author I’ve enjoyed reading. Her books are fun, but they also pull me in and manage to have me totally emotionally connected to the characters and invested in the story and the outcome. The Unexpected Everything, like Morgan Matson’s other books, was a perfect summer read! Totally recommended and a must-read!
Date published: 2016-06-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I really enjoyed this book. I wasn’t sure what to think about this book at first. While the characters were great: believable, quirky and adorable; the plot line wasn’t exactly engaging. For the better part of the book, the reader is just following Andie around on her aimless summer, hanging out with her friends and walking dogs with her while she tries to figure out her feelings for Clark. In short nothing was happening. But then I realized that was the point. Matson was setting up the story so that the reader could really connect with Andie and her friends and feel almost as if you were one of the group. And they are a pretty amazing group of people. By the time she stumbles upon a secret Bri is keeping that threatens to destroy the tight knit group of friends and jeopardizes her relationship with Clark, as a reader you are so invested in the story that you can’t believe what is happening. In the end, I really enjoyed this book. It wasn’t one I raced through but one that slowly grew on me and hooked me in the long run.
Date published: 2016-06-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A must-read for contemporary young adult fiction fans! The Unexpected Everything is Morgan Matson’s best book. Tightly focused, but with unique and captivating details, The Unexpected Everything surpasses all of Morgan’s previous books by touching on themes from each of them, and then going further in developing the relationships between family, friends, and significant others. For the first time, Morgan is looking at not just the getting together of friends, family, and romance, but the actual ins and outs of every day with those people, and how unexpectedly beautiful those ins and outs can be. Also, it’s a darn fun book. Did I mention that? This is the most delightful summer book, and my favorite read of this year so far. GO READ IT NOW.
Date published: 2016-05-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Sunshine, Rainbows and Everything! 4.5 Stars! Initially I was wary of the monster size that is The Unexpected Everything but wow does Morgan Matson write a timeless story. Family. Friends. Boyfriends. She brings it all and makes them perfectly relatable. The Unexpected Everything had the perfect balance of awkward interactions between family, fun events with friends and sweet moments with boys. I love how it's the unexpected things that led to the characters having an unforgettable summer. The good times but also the not so pleasant times proved to be beneficial for them. The friendship between Andie, Palmer, Bri and Toby was bright and shiny. These girls had the sweetest friendship ever! I love how comfortable and supportive they were with each other- sharing their feelings, secrets and giggles about boys and first times. It was fabulous. The emoji challenge between Palmer and Toby was loads of fun. It reminded me of a time when I was dared to use all emoji at an online student club meeting. Now I wasn't as creative as Toby was (toe bee!) but it was still a ton of good laughs ;) My love for Bertie the giant adorable white dog runs deep (he's on the cover!). How do you not love him? He brought Andie and Clark together! These two are so cute they're totally meant to be. I feel like Clark's geeky/shy side offsets Andie's planner side well. He's so simple, so natural it sort of forces Andie to go with the flow- throw out all her rules. (I hope that makes sense?) As Andie comes to learn, great things happen even when you didn't plan for them. Especially in times you're not prepared for, in the most unexpected moments~ I love the scavenger hunt! The sneaky tricks and the unexpected (father/daughter) bonding chance were adorable. The story really picked up and gained intensity from that point on. Let's just say, without giving away any spoilers, a lot of things become much more serious than before. I seriously wanted to poke my eyes out because I was scared. This side fling was so obvious I couldn't believe nobody suspected a thing or called it out. Though I guess when you're an insider, sometimes it's hard to see clearly. Especially since all the girls were busy with their summer jobs and boyfriends. I'm really pleased with how Ms. Matson resolves each situation she created. Realistic with a dose of reverence to the characters. Andie goes out of her comfort zone to hold onto what she wants while the other girls learn to be themselves. They're all starting to grow up. If you love a well-told contemporary then pick up Morgan Matson's books. She's the master at crafting sunny fun reads intertwined with important messages. So I repeat, Morgan Matson = BUY!
Date published: 2016-05-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Perfect Summer Read! The Unexpected Everything was actually my very first time reading a Morgan Matson book. I know! How could this be? You'd think since she's one of my sister's absolute favourite YA authors, I would totally be on top of this, so it's kind of unfathomable that it's taken me all this time to read one of her books. And now I totally regret it. Because reading The Unexpected Everything made me realize just how much I was seriously missing out! When her father's political scandal derails Andie's prestigious internship at Johns Hopkins, suddenly all her carefully laid out plans are falling apart. Ever since Andie's mother passed away several years ago, Congressman Walker has been more concerned about his work than his teenage daughter. And now they'll be forced to be in the same house all summer. Andie has long grown used to his absence in her life, and the perfect image she must maintain for the sake of their family's reputation, but now there's just an uncomfortable silence between them. They've become two strangers in the same home, and Andie doesn't know how to fix it. A life under the media's spotlight may have taught Andie to be wary of outsiders, but with her three best friends, she can drop her guard. Palmer, Bri, Toby, and Andie are an inseparable squad, always only a quick group text chat away. They're the only people Andie has ever felt she can say anything and trust she'll never be judged. A summer at home means more time with the girls, but Andie needs more than that to stop feeling restless—she needs a job. Working as a dog walker and meeting the super cute Clark were never in Andie's plans, but it might just be the unexpected everything her life needed. Heartfelt, funny, and just so adorably awkward at times, Morgan Matson's The Unexpected Everything is truly a perfect summer read! The emoji conversations, dog walks with playful Bertie, every moment with geeky Clark—there's just so much to endearingly love about this book and its genuine characters. It's an unforgettable summer filled with fresh possibilities, mending complex family relationships, and the inevitable change that signals you're growing up. Friendship, romance, and delicious ice cream, you'll find it all in Morgan Matson's incredibly addictive The Unexpected Everything. You need to move this book to the top of your TBR. Right. Now.
Date published: 2016-05-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Great Summer Romance I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Morgan Matson is one of my favourite YA authors so I was so excited to read her latest book and it did not disappoint. Andie had her summer all planned out and is looking forward to the great internship program she has lined up. However all her plans change when her father, a politician, suffers a scandal and her plans fall apart. She has to scramble to find a new plan for the summer and reluctantly takes a job as a dog walker. It was great to see Andie grow as the novel develops, realizing the best things in life can't always go according to plan. I loved the characters in the book and the way Matson always blends romance, family and friendship drama so well. I loved watching the relationship between Andie and her father develop over the novel and they both grew a lot. I also adored Clarke and watching his and Andie's relationship develop. If you're looking for a cute summer romance, I would definitely recommend this one. It's a quick read and I laughed a lot throughout the book, as well as shed a few tears.
Date published: 2016-05-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Review from Book Nerd Canada Andi has meaningless relationships. Her longest running was three weeks. Then in comes Clark, cute, geeky and a little awkward, he's the author of a best-selling fantasy series. When a fluffy white dog named Bertie brings them together for the first time, Clark starts to realize that planning everything and controlling everything may be the best thing that has happened to her. I fell in love with Morgan Matson’s writing with this one. She knows exactly what it’s like to combine wonderfully flawed characters and eventually have them realize the error of their ways by the end. I gobbled this 528 page monster. Don’t be intimidated by the high page count because you will fly through this one. She combines not only romance, but includes the importance of family and friends. I loved every moment of it. Andi is always going to be the one who plans everything. Having her have all these plans be cancelled last minute makes her anxious. I could easily relate to her in this way because this is how I am too. I loved her character growth, her relationship with her father. And all of her best friends who are all so likeable as well. Clark is the sweetest guy with his cute dimples. He is a book nerd’s dream come true. If you read the book, you will know what I’m talking about. All the other secondary characters like Toby, Bri and Palmer are there for support, and as a group unit, I loved reading their emoji messages. The cutie pie Great Pyrenees dog named Bertie stole the show for me. He is the cutest and so full of life. You’ll need to pick this one up if you’re looking for a great summer read that will have you laughing, and also sighing with relief. Morgan Matson is definitely a favourite contemporary author of mine and her latest book will have readers clamoring for more.
Date published: 2016-05-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Will Become One of Your Favorites! I loved this book!! Morgan Matson definitely got me hooked immediately from the start until the very end, where I had tears in my eyes. Like any of her other books Matson does a great job with the importance of friendships and easily relate-able characters. When I first heard about The Unexpected Everything, I knew right away that I had to read it just based off the title, cover and synopsis. Morgan Matson's books are definitely worth the wait because you will never be disappointed. This is definitely one of my top favorite contemporary books of this year! Every character was enjoyable to read. In all of Morgan's books friendship and family play an important part in her books. Andie's friendships with her friends were familiar and complex as you read through the story. The romance was adorable because Andie and Clark are easy to relate to and it was great to see how the relationship develops. I loved how Clark was shy and awkward which made me like him even more! Andie is strong, organized and very smart. She was considerate of others because her friends are important. I really liked Andie's relationship with her father. I liked seeing how they both grew in the book. The Unexpected Everything is perfect from beginning to end. I was smiling and laughing throughout the book. It deals with serious topics and also a little fun. Morgan Matson is one author that needs to be on everyone's list. Also Clark will become one of your favorite book boyfriends! Now I can't wait to re-read it.
Date published: 2016-05-02

Read from the Book

The Unexpected Everything Chapter ONE I flexed my feet in my too-tight shoes and made myself stand up straight, trying to ignore the rapid-fire clicking of the cameras going off all around me. It was still really hot out—despite the fact it was getting close to five—but I was wearing a knee-length tweed skirt and a white button-down shirt. My hair had been blown out and curled, and I was wearing pearl earrings and a light application of makeup. It was not the way I would normally have looked on a Wednesday afternoon in early June, but this was anything but an ordinary Wednesday. “Thank you all so much for coming today,” my father said from behind the podium that was currently in the middle of our front porch. He shuffled his papers for a second before taking a deep breath and going into his prepared speech, the one I now knew by heart, since Peter Wright, his chief of staff and main strategist, had made me listen to it over and over until I could do so with absolutely no change in my expression, like all of this was old news to me by now, and nothing my dad was saying would catch me by surprise. For a moment, as the now-familiar words started to wash over me, I just blinked at the podium. Where exactly had it come from? Did Peter travel around with spare ones in the back of his SUV? “. . . regret that the people of Connecticut might have lost any of their trust in me,” my dad said, snapping me back to the present moment. I fixed my eyes on him again, hoping that my face hadn’t betrayed anything other than a supportive daughter standing by her father. If it had, this story, which was already dominating the twenty-four-hour news channels and had spilled onto the networks, would just keep getting bigger. It wasn’t like I didn’t understand why. A prominent congressman, one of the stars of the party, is suddenly caught up in a scandal that threatens to upend not only his career but the next national election—the headlines practically wrote themselves. If it had been someone else, I would have looked at the round-the-clock coverage and shrugged, figuring it was to be expected. But now that it was happening here—my front yard, my porch, my father—that certainty was totally gone. My eyes drifted to the wall of reporters and photographers in front of me, the news cameras pointed toward us, the relentless sound of shutters clicking, all of it letting me know every moment was being captured. The press knew when there was blood in the water. It was evident enough by the fact that our front lawn was now packed and news trucks lined the block. They’d been here ever since the story broke, but until a few hours ago, they’d been kept from getting near our house by the guard at the entrance to Stanwich Woods, the planned community we lived in in Stanwich, Connecticut. Since normally this job consisted of waving in residents while reading magazines, I had a feeling whoever was working was not thrilled that they now had to fend off national media teams. The headlines and news reports had been inescapable, all of them leading with the fact that my father had once been tapped as the vice presidential candidate before withdrawing five years earlier. Everyone brought up that he’d been widely considered to be a strong candidate for the VP spot again in the next national election, or even higher. Reporters commented on the story with barely concealed glee, and the segments and headlines were each worse than the last one. Rising Congressman Falls to Earth. Congressional Corruption Brings Party’s Star Low. Walker Trips Himself Up. I’d been around the press practically my whole life—but it had never felt like this. My father, Representative Alexander Walker, had been a member of Congress since I was three. He’d been a public defender before that, but I had no recollection of it—of a time when there weren’t voters to court and messages to craft and districts to analyze. Some of my friends’ fathers had jobs that they did and then left the office and forgot about, but that had never been my dad. His work was his life, which meant it was mine, too. It hadn’t been so bad when I was a kid, but in the last few years things had changed. I’d always been part of the Alex Walker brand—the daughter of a diligent single father who worked hard for the people of Connecticut—but now I was also a potential liability. Countless examples of politicians’ kids who’d tanked, or at least threatened to damage, their parents’ careers were laid out for me as cautionary tales and clear examples of what I was not supposed to do. I would not say anything offensive, or anything that could be interpreted as such, in a public forum or in earshot of the media. I would not be photographed doing or wearing anything even mildly controversial. I had the same social media accounts as everyone else, but mine were regulated by a series of interns and I wasn’t allowed to post to them without permission. I’d had a week of media training when I was thirteen, and after that I’d never strayed too far from the message, from the words that were vetted and scripted and written for me. I didn’t cause my dad, or his team, any trouble if I could help it. It wasn’t like I never did anything that made waves—I’d once, without thinking, ordered my regular latte on a campaign stop, and his staff had had a two-hour meeting about it. Then they’d had a one-hour meeting with me, complete with an agenda labeled ALEXANDRA, despite the fact that nobody who actually knew me ever called me by my real name. I was Andie, and had been since I was little and couldn’t quite manage the four-syllable name my parents had landed me with. “Andra” was the best I could manage at two, which turned into Andie, and fifteen years later, here I still was. In the end it was decided that when there was press around, I could no longer order five-dollar iced sugar-free vanilla soy lattes—they didn’t want me to seem like a rich kid, throwing her money around while the people of Connecticut struggled to put food on the table. They also didn’t want to offend the dairy lobby. It didn’t seem possible that after years of being beyond careful, watching all the tiniest details, and trying never to make a mistake, we’d ended up here anyway. But not because of anything I’d done—or even anything my dad had done, according to the version of events Peter had been giving the media ever since this broke. But this was happening because someone in his office had (allegedly) taken charitable contributions that were intended for my dad’s foundation and funneled them into his reelection campaign fund. Apparently, when it was discovered during an audit that my dad’s foundation was nearly bankrupt, people began asking questions. Which had led to this, to today, much more quickly than I could get my head around. Two weeks ago my life had been normal. My dad had been in D.C., working as usual, I’d been finishing up the school year, hanging out with my friends, and planning how to break up with my boyfriend, Zach (by the lockers, right after his graduation, quick and fast, like ripping off a Band-Aid). Two weeks ago my life had been going to plan. And now there was a podium on the porch. I let my eyes fall for just a second to a spot on the lawn where a thick cable was laid out, flattening the grass. A month ago my dad and I had shot promo photos and ads there for his fall campaign, my dad in a jacket but no tie, me in a skirt and cashmere sweater. There had been fake fall leaves scattered over the grass, turning May into October. I hadn’t asked if these had been purchased, or if some intern had had to make them, because I really hadn’t wanted to know the answer. We’d been shooting all day, first stills, then video, my dad and I walking across the lawn together, like this was totally normal. As if we ever got dressed up to walk across the lawn and have a chat, just for fun. As we were nearing the end of the day, the director had looked at the two of us and sighed. “Don’t you guys have a dog or something?” My dad had been on his BlackBerry as usual, not even hearing this, and it had fallen to me to give him a smile and say, “No dog. Just the two of us.” And he’d nodded and said something to the guy holding the silver disk that bounced light onto us, and we’d moved on, into the next setup, projecting the image of a small, happy family once again. Now, though, I didn’t know if those mailers or ads, complete with my dad’s campaign slogan—“Toward the Future”—would ever be used. From where I was standing on the porch, it wasn’t looking so good. “I will say again that I had no knowledge whatsoever of this misuse of funds,” my dad said, snapping me back to the present moment. His voice was getting low and serious, and I could practically sense the press grow still, like they knew they were getting what they’d come for. “But the fact is, this violation of campaign finance regulations originated in my office. And since it was an office under my control and my leadership, I must take responsibility. As you know, I’ve asked for an independent investigation, one that can get to the bottom of how this occurred. I’ve directed my staff to cooperate to the fullest extent. And while the investigation is ongoing—” Here my dad drew in a breath and rubbed his wedding ring with his thumb, his nervous tic. Apparently, he’d lost four the first year he and my mother were married, and so she’d bought him a crazy-expensive one in the hope that he might hold on to it. He had, but ever since, he’d been absently checking for its existence. The press sometimes commented on the fact that he was still wearing it, five years later, but I had a feeling today that would not be one of the questions shouted at him from our lawn. There were much bigger headline-generating fish to fry. “While the investigation is ongoing, I will be taking a leave of absence. I feel that I cannot serve my district or my state effectively while this is being investigated. I will be donating my salary to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund.” I hadn’t heard about the charity—it wasn’t in the last draft of the speech Peter read to me, and I tried not to let any surprise pass over my face. But I couldn’t help wondering if it had been a last-minute addition, or if this was just something they hadn’t thought I needed to know. “I will be taking this time away from Congress to reflect on any actions that might have brought me here and to spend time with my family.” My father glanced over at me, and I gave him the smile that Peter had made me rehearse that morning. It was supposed to be supportive, encouraging, and kind, but couldn’t be too happy. I had no idea if it came off or not, but all I could think as my dad turned back to the press was how strange this all was—this bizarre theater we were performing for the national press on our front porch. “I will not be taking any questions at this time. Thank you very much for your attention.” He turned away from the podium as the reporters on our lawn started yelling questions. As we’d practiced, I walked toward my dad, and he put his arm around my shoulders as someone pulled the front door open from the inside. I glanced back to see Peter stepping smoothly up to the podium, answering the shouted questions my dad had walked away from. The second we were inside, my dad dropped his arm and I took a step away. The door was firmly shut behind us by one of the interns who’d arrived with Peter last week. The intern nodded at my dad, then hustled out of the foyer, fast. Most of the interns—I never bothered to learn their names unless they were particularly cute—had been avoiding him since the story broke, not meeting his eye, clearly not sure how to behave. Usually, they were unshakable, following his every move, trying to prove themselves invaluable, the better to get a job later. But now, it was like my dad was radioactive, and just being around him might damage their future job prospects. “Thanks,” my dad said after clearing his throat. “I know that can’t have been easy for you.” It was only years of practice and ingrained media training that kept me from rolling my eyes. As though my dad had ever cared about what was easy for me. “It was fine.” My dad nodded, and silence fell between us. I realized with a start that we were alone—no Peter, no constantly buzzing BlackBerry. I tried for a moment to remember the last time it had been just me and my dad, together in a way that hadn’t been staged for the cameras, engineered to appear casual. After a moment I realized it had probably been December, my dad and I driving together to a post-holiday charity event. He’d tried to ask me about my classes, until it became painfully clear to both of us that he had no idea what they were. We’d given up after a few minutes and listened to the news on the radio for the rest of the drive. I glanced up and saw our reflection in the hall mirror, a little startled to see us standing next to each other. I always wanted to think I looked like my mother, and I had when I was little. But I was looking more and more like my dad every year—the proof was being reflected right in front of me. We had the same freckly skin, same thick auburn hair (more brown than red, except in the light), same thick dark brows that I was constantly having to tweeze into submission, same blue eyes and dark eyelashes. I was even tall like him, and lanky, whereas my mother had been petite and curvy, with curly blond hair and green eyes. I looked away from the mirror and took a step back, and when I looked up again, it was just my dad reflected back, which felt better—not like the two of us were being forced into a frame together. “So,” my dad said, reaching into his suit jacket pocket—undoubtedly for his BlackBerry. He stopped after a second, though, and dropped his hand, when he must have remembered it wasn’t there. Peter had confiscated it so that it wouldn’t go off during the press conference. He’d taken my cell phone too, which even I had to admit was a good idea—my three best friends had a tendency to start epic text threads, and even if my phone had been on silent, its buzzing would have been distracting and probably would have spawned a story of its own—This press conference is like sooooo boring! Texting daughter can’t even pay attention as Walker’s career hits the skids. My dad stuck his hands in his pockets and cleared his throat again. “So. Andie. About this summer. I—uh . . .” “I won’t be here,” I reminded him, and even saying the words, I could feel relief flooding through me. “My program starts the day after tomorrow.” My dad nodded, his brow furrowed, which meant he had no idea what I was talking about but didn’t want to tell me that, just wanted to look concerned and engaged. I’d been watching him do it with opponents and voters for years, and tried not to let myself be surprised that he hadn’t remembered. “The Young Scholars Program,” I clarified, knowing telling him was the simplest path out of this. “It’s at Johns Hopkins.” “Ah,” my dad said, his brow clearing, and I saw he actually was remembering, not just pretending to remember while waiting for Peter to whisper something in his ear. “Of course. That’s right.” The program at Johns Hopkins was one of the best in the country, designed for high school students who were planning to be pre-med in college. My friend Toby insisted on calling it pre-pre-med-med, and the fact that I kept telling her not to only seemed to be making the name stick. You stayed on campus in the dorms, took advanced math and science classes, and got to shadow interns and residents on their hospital rotations. I’d known I wanted to be a doctor since I could remember. I had a story I told to reporters about my dad giving me a toy stethoscope for Christmas when I was five that actually wasn’t true, but I’d said it enough now that it felt true. When I was applying to the program, I was confident I’d get in based on my grades—I did well in all my subjects, but I did great in math and science; I always had. And it didn’t hurt that one of my dad’s biggest supporters was Dr. Daniel Rizzoli, who was the former provost of Johns Hopkins. When he’d handed me my letter of recommendation, handwritten on heavy, cream-colored paper, I’d known I was in. I’d been looking forward to it all year, but with everything that had been happening, I was practically counting down the minutes. My dad could stay here and sort things out on his own, and hopefully by the time I came back in August, things would be settled. But either way, in two days this would no longer be my problem. In forty-eight hours I would be gone. I would be in a dorm room in Baltimore, meeting my new roommate, Gina Flores, in person for the first time, and hoping that her tendency to never use exclamation points in any of her texts or e-mails was a weird quirk and not actually indicative of her personality. I would be reading over my syllabus for the millionth time and getting my books from the campus bookstore. I would hopefully have met someone cute at orientation already, halfway to my summer crush. But I would not be here, which was the most important thing. “Are you all set with everything?” my dad asked, and I wondered if this sounded as strange to him as it did to me, like he was reading badly written lines he hadn’t fully memorized. “I mean . . . do you need a ride?” “I’m fine,” I said quickly. The last thing I needed was to have my dad drive me onto campus trailed by a CNN news truck. “Palmer’s driving me. It’s all arranged.” Palmer Alden—one of my three best friends—loved any opportunity for a road trip, and when she’d seen me looking into buses and car services, she’d jumped into action and started planning our route, complete with mixes and snack stops. Her boyfriend, Tom, was coming as well, mostly because he insisted, since there was a rumor that Hairspray was going to be our school musical next year, and he wanted to do some “method research.” “Oh, good,” my dad said. Peter must have finished answering a question, because suddenly the shouts of the press outside got louder. I winced slightly and took a step away from the door. “Well,” I said, tipping my head toward the kitchen. My phone was in there, I was pretty sure. Not that I even really needed to check it, but I wanted this to be over. The whole day had been strange enough, and we didn’t need to keep adding to it by trying to have the world’s most awkward conversation. “I’m going to . . .” “Right,” my dad said, his hand reaching toward his suit jacket again, out of habit, before he caught himself halfway and dropped it. “And I should . . .” The sentence trailed off, and my dad glanced around the entryway, looking lost. I felt a sudden flash of sympathy for him. After all, my dad always had something to do. He was beyond busy, his day scheduled to the minute sometimes, always in the center of a group of staff and handlers and interns and assistants. He ran his team; he was respected and powerful and in control. And now he was standing in our foyer without his BlackBerry, while the press tore him apart just a few feet away. But even as I felt bad for him, I knew there wasn’t anything I could do or say. My dad and I fixed our own problems—we took care of them ourselves, didn’t share them with each other, and that was just the way it went. I gave him a quick smile, then started toward the kitchen. “Andie,” my dad said when I was nearly to the kitchen door. “I . . .” He looked at me for a moment before putting his hands in his pockets and dropping his gaze to the wooden floors, which seemed impervious to scratching, looking as brand-new as the day I’d first seen this house, like nobody actually lived here at all. “Thank you for standing up there with me. I know it was hard. And I promise I won’t ask you to do that again.” A memory flashed before me, fast, just a collection of images and feelings. Another press conference five years earlier, my mother, her hands on my shoulders, squeezing them tight as I tried not to flinch while the flashes went off in my eyes. The way she’d leaned down to whisper to me right before, when we were standing behind the doors of my dad’s congressional offices, the synthetic hair of her wig tickling my cheek, so unlike the soft curls I used to wind around my finger whenever she would let me. “Remember,” she’d said, her voice low and meant only for me, “if things get too dramatic, what are you going to do?” “Mom,” I’d said, trying not to smile, but fighting it with every millimeter. “I’m not.” “You are,” she said, straightening my dress, then my headband. She tugged on the end of her hair and arched an eyebrow at me. “If things are going badly and we need a distraction, just reach up and yank it off. They’ll forget all about what they were asking your dad.” “Stop,” I said, but I was smiling then; I couldn’t help it. She leaned down closer to me, and I felt my smile falter as I could see just how thin she was, her skin yellowing underneath the makeup she’d carefully applied. How I could see the veins in her face, the ones that we must all have—but on the rest of us they were hidden, not exposed where they shouldn’t be. How the press conference had gone on longer than they’d expected, how my mother had left me to go stand with my dad when he started talking about her. It had all been about her, after all—the reason he was pulling his name from consideration for vice president, despite the fact that it was going to be him, everyone knew that. It was supposed to be him. How hard I’d fought not to cry, standing alone, knowing even then that if I did, that would be the story, the picture on the front page. And when it was over, how my dad had given me a hug and promised me that was that, and I’d never have to go through another one of those again. “Really,” I said now, my voice coming out sharper than I’d expected. My dad blinked at me, and I held his gaze for a moment, wondering if he even remembered the last time we’d done this, or if they all blended together, just another promise he’d made that he couldn’t actually keep. “Because I’ve heard that before.” I didn’t want to see if he understood what I meant. I wasn’t sure I could take another fake furrowed brow, not about something like this. So I just gave him a nod and headed into the kitchen, walking twice as fast as usual, ready to put all of this far behind me, and suddenly feeling, for the very first time, that nobody gave rats the credit they deserved for abandoning the sinking ships. They were the smart ones, getting out while they still could. After all, they saw the way things were going, and they were just looking out for themselves. And so was I. PALMER Andie!! How are you doing? BRI You looked great on CNN. TOBY Totally great. Did you do that thing with the curling iron? Remember, the thing you promised months ago to teach me? BRI Toby. TOBY What? I’m trying to say she looked good. And that I would like to as well. PALMER How are you holding up? In the safety of my own room, I looked down at my phone and felt myself really smile for what I was certain was the first time that day. I could see Peter had been right to keep my phone away from me—it looked like these texts had started right around the time my dad’s speech was wrapping up. I crossed over to my bed, phone in hand. We’d been in this house five years, but my room hadn’t changed a whole lot since the day we’d moved in. It had been professionally decorated, but by someone who clearly didn’t know they were designing for a middle schooler. It was all taupes and beiges and subtle patterns, everything matching, like a bedroom suite had just been picked whole out of a catalog. After all this time, it still sometimes felt like I was sleeping in a hotel. I had my makeup and jewelry organized on my dresser, framed pictures of my friends, and clothes folded on the chair in the corner, but aside from that, there was very little that marked this room as mine. I flopped down onto the bed, kicking my shoes off and settling back against the throw pillows, getting comfortable, since these text chains could go on for hours. I glanced down at the last text, Palmer’s, and hesitated, my hand over the keypad. I leaned closer to the window that was above my bed—it was open slightly, and I could hear voices drifting up to me. I looked out and saw the press conference had wrapped up. People were wandering around the lawn, and there was no sign of either Peter or the podium. I turned my back on everything that was happening outside, hoping that maybe the next time I looked, everyone would be gone, the flattened grass the last reminder of what had taken place there only a few hours before. ME I’m fine. PALMER Really? BRI REALLY? TOBY ? ME Totally fine. The press conference was a pain, but it’s my dad’s issue, not mine. BRI Hm. ME What? TOBY She’s saying she doesn’t believe you. PALMER How can you tell? BRI No, Toby’s right. I don’t. But we can discuss it later. ME There’s nothing to discuss BRI Yes there is TOBY And when we discuss it, why don’t you also show me the curling iron thing? PALMER Toby, I thought we were going to be supportive. TOBY I AM being supportive! I even tried to drive over and be there for Andie, but the guard at the gate wouldn’t let me in. ME He wouldn’t let you in? TOBY No! Something about needing to be on a list, national security, I don’t know. ME Sorry, T. This should be back to normal as soon as all the press is gone TOBY Well, I was offended. He knows me, after all. We go way back, me and Ronnie. PALMER His name’s Earl. TOBY Oh. PALMER But anyway! We’re going out tonight. ME We are? BRI We are. We voted, and it’s a necessity. TOBY Absolutely. That’s what I tried to tell Ronnie. PALMER Earl. BRI There’s a party. We’re all going. We think you need it after everything that’s happened. I turned and looked out the window again, at the press corps that weren’t leaving nearly as quickly as I wanted them to. There were now reporters lined up in front of the house, cameras pointed at them, no doubt recapping what had just occurred. It didn’t seem like I was going to be leaving unnoticed any time soon. ME I’m not so sure that’s going to happen, guys. TOBY PALMER No, it totally will! BRI Don’t worry PALMER We figured it out. ME But the press are still all over this place. We’d need a way to get me out of here unseen. . . . Don’t know how that’s possible. TOBY Andie, RELAX. We have a plan. I looked down at that sentence, feeling a tiny stab of nervousness. The fact that nobody would tell me what exactly this plan was had me concerned. Especially if Toby was the brains behind it. I moved a little closer to my window, still trying to keep myself out of sight, and pushed it open more. There must have been a reporter doing her recap practically right beneath me, because suddenly I could hear it crystal clear, her miked voice traveling straight up to me. “The last time the congressman was the focus of this much attention was five years ago, when, due to his wife’s failing health, he withdrew his name abruptly from Governor Matthew Laughlin’s unsuccessful presidential campaign, despite the fact he was seen as the front-runner for the VP slot. His wife, Molly Walker, died from ovarian cancer six weeks later. It’s unclear what this latest upset means for the congressman’s future—” I slammed the window, shutting out the reporter on the lawn, and picked up my phone again. ME A party actually sounds great. Let’s do it.

Editorial Reviews

"Readers will find the friendships healthy and rewarding...Relationships are tested and lessons are learned, but the reading is easy and full of positive messages... Recommended."