In a tropical country, a never ending summer is not that impossible. “We’ve got the ocean, got the babes, got the sun, we’ve got the waves,” says California band Best Coast about the Philippines (okay, it was about California). The ‘-ber’ months might be here but nothing should stop your from going out of town (especially out of traffic), for a quick relaxation. And of course, it wouldn’t be complete without a summer read.
Under the Batangas sun and over mango shakes, I found myself giggling through Morgan Matson’s The Unexpected Everything. It tells the story of Andie Walker, daughter of a congressman and, according to Morgan herself, a Virgo. She and her friends wanted to make the most out of their summer vacation. They apply to their dream internships and got in. That is until Andie’s offer was pulled out because of the controversy surrounding her dad. So, she became a dog walker. Looking back at it, I don’t think it’s not that bad. You’re surrounded by furry animals and a cute dog owner; I don’t see why that’s not an ideal way to spend your summer vacation.
Like most teenagers, Andie becomes conflicted and she finds herself in the middle of a drama. Not just with her family, but also her friends and relationships. That’s one thing that I liked about the book: it doesn’t sugarcoat or overdramatize any problems of a real-life teenager. Life will not wait for you to “fix yourself” before you’re overcome with another hurdle. And I think that’s what make Andie a good hero.
We sat down with the author to talk about her inspiration behind Andie’s character, how to deal with rejection and making it big despite all of it.
What’s your inspiration behind Andie’s character?
I think the real inspiration just came from being in Washington and kind of just sort of playing out that idea of if you would grow up sort of always being aware (of your surroundings) and always having to monitor everything you said. And then I really sort of consciously wanted to do a story that was about relationship, family and about friendship. And not to have one be more important than the other. I feel like sometimes, the friends get sidelined and the family’s just kind of in the background and I really wanted it to be all driving the story equally.
I think that makes it more realistic because as a teenager, you have to deal with so many things.
Right. I feel like that’s sort of what life is. I feel like it’s not that things take a backseat when it’s convenient. It’s like, generally everything’s happening at the same time at the worst possible time. So yeah, I did want it to feel more like life in that way.
One of the things you explored in the book is how to deal with rejection in terms of career. Of course, Andie didn’t get her dream internship and how she dealt with this was so inspiring. Do you have other tips for kids maybe on how to deal with it.
You know, it’s always tough, but I do think that sometimes it can lead to something much better. If for whatever reason it’s not a good fit, it’s better to not be part of something because then you could find something that might be. I think your whole life, unfortunately, is getting rejected in one way or another. The sooner you can learn to roll with it and realize that maybe it’s not personal, that’s just sort of one of those things that happens, it’s a great quality to have. I think sometimes you get so focused on if you got rejected, you kind of can’t see that there’s something great over here that you wouldn’t have been free to do if you were still at that other place.
Speaking of careers, do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
One of the best things you can do if you want to write is to read a lot. You can sometimes learn more from a book you don’t like than a book you love. So if you want to be a writer and you’re reading a book and you don’t like it, take a step back and ask why you dislike it.
I always say that writing is a skill; you get better at it with practice and by doing it a lot. And I would say if you really want to write –– if you can finish something ––that’s great. Because I, when I was beginning, I kept starting at stuff and then abandoning it, and starting it and then abandoning it. And I think the first time you actually see a story through to the end is really helpful because then you can make it better, you’ve finished it and haven’t just like, left it halfway through which is what I always did.
Morgan Matson’s The Unexpected Everything is available in all National Book Store branches nationwide.