An incredible story of love and friendship that made me laugh and cry in equal measure.
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?
As this was my third Morgan Matson book, I had no doubt that I would enjoy the story. I just didn’t think that I would love it as much as I did.
Andie was a great protagonist. She starts off the book your typical Type A, planning-for-college-since-freshman-year character, but when her plans go off the rails, a more complex personality starts to emerge. For a little while, it seemed like she was going to be really similar to Matson’s other protagonists, which would have been a little disappointing, but thankfully she grew into her own character.
Though her life was very different from my own, I felt instantly connected to Andie. She was incredibly relatable, and I always understood what she was feeling and why she made the choices she made. Her growth felt natural and well-paced. I couldn’t describe the exact moment she became a more down-to-earth person—that was how smooth the transition was.
Andie’s group of friends had everything that I look for from friendships in books: Positive interactions between girls in which they actually talk about emotions/insecurities/sex? Check. Male friends that have nuanced personalities and are treated as part of the group? Check. Side characters that have nuanced relationships with each other and clear personalities and their own subplots? Check, check, check. Yay!
Andie’s relationship with her dad was one of the most unexpected parts of the book. I knew that they would of course bond throughout the summer (it’s just that kind of book), but I was surprised at how natural the change in their relationship felt. The story was never preachy or cheesy, never yelled at the reader to just shut up and love their parents. Andie and her dad both consciously worked to improve their relationship.
And then there was Clark. I am 110% in love with Clark. He started the book as your average, gawky in front of a cute girl nerd (though his Doctor Who t-shirt already separated him from the pack). However, there was so much more to his character, and he ended up being one of the most unique love interests that I think I’ve ever read about.
I really don’t want to spoil anything because I loved how shocked I was as we slowly learned more about Clark. Suffice to say that I really related to him and his passions, and I wish we got to see more male characters with this kind of personality.
The romance between Clark and Andie was adorable (obviously, this is Morgan Matson we’re talking about). They have a cliche beginning—the usual “hey I met a hot person and we kept bumping into each other” thing—but from there on, their relationship became more and more unique. I liked that they didn’t immediately fall for each other and that even once they had been together for a while, they still hadn’t opened up to each other completely. I understood why they both held back, and it made what could have been a tired attempt to add drama feel new and believable.
I’m not going to lie, I spent most of the middle of TUE terrified because I could tell that their perfect relationship was bound to fall apart (they just had too many unresolved issues), and I knew it would kill me. Well, guess what? I spent the last quarter of the book crying. So at least I get credit for being right???
Even as I was crying, though, I knew that there was more to TUE than the romance. I wasn’t sobbing just because of Andie and Clark, but also because of Andie’s dad and Andie’s friends and Andie herself. Each of the subplots was written in such a way that they could all break my heart. TUE’s power comes from how freaking real it is; never once did something strike me as unbelievable or out-of-place.
TUE is really long. Like, longer than any other contemporary book I’ve read, I think. Because of how long it was, every plot line had time to shine and develop, every character got to grow, and none of their relationships felt rushed. I wish that more contemporary authors took this long to explore their stories.
Now for the little things I loved: The title, for one, is absolutely perfect. I loved the way that fantasy novels were woven into the book, combining two of my favorite genres in one. I loved that TUE and SYBG share the same setting, and I actually squealed out loud when I hit the tiny crossover scene between those two books.
Finally, I loved the ending of this book. I had finally stopped crying by the last pages, and I was able to enjoy the happiness that the ending gave me. However, the ending doesn’t fixes everything, and I appreciated that some things were left imperfect. An ending that put everything back together would have ruined the realism of the story and undermined its message.
I would recommend TUE to anyone who loves contemporary stories or who is looking for a book with a large focus on friendship and family. Though I spent an entire morning crying over it, the story is happy and uplifting more than anything else. My favorite Morgan Matson book yet.