Hardcover, 288 pages
Expected publication: May 26th 2015 by Push
Format read: ARC via publisher
With funny, likable characters, and a warmth and insighftulness to his writing that's reminiscent of John Green, I predict that Will Walton is definitely an author to watch.
Tretch lives in a very small town where everybody's in everybody else's business. Which makes it hard for him to be in love with his straight best friend. For his part, Matt is completely oblivious to the way Tretch feels - and Tretch can't tell whether that makes it better or worse.
The problem with living a lie is that the lie can slowly become your life. For Tretch, the problem isn't just with Matt. His family has no idea who he really is and what he's really thinking. The girl at the local bookstore has no clue how off-base her crush on him is. And the guy at school who's a thorn in Tretch's side doesn't realize how close to the truth he's hitting.
Tretch has spent a lot of time dancing alone in his room, but now he's got to step outside his comfort zone and into the wider world. Because like love, a true self can rarely be contained.
Anything Could Happen is a poignant, hard-hitting exploration of love and friendship, a provocative debut that shows that sometimes we have to let things fall apart before we can make them whole again.
Now that I've actually read the book, I have to say: I absolutely adore this book beyond all measure, and insist that all of you pre-order it immediately.
Things that worked:
From the very start of the book, I felt like I knew Tretch. He's wry, sincere and sweetly honest about his life, and he confides in the reader like he's confiding in his best friend Matt - whom ironically, is the very person that Tretch is in love with.
Walton does an amazing job creating a genuine warmth and heart to Tretch, showing the reader how Tretch's unrequited love is both very normal for a teenager his age - and Tretch smartly recognizes this fact - but concurrently still feels like a big issue for him.
But even in the throes of his unrequited crush, Walton is also careful to show that Tretch isn't a teen with a one-track mind. Tretch is sensitive and kind, and has a genuine interest in dance, his family and his friends, all of whom change and evolve throughout the course of the novel. Tretch willinglly learns how to evolve alongside those changes, which is a subtle but important lesson for readers, especially the younger ones.
One of my favorite aspects of Anything Could Happen, is the fact that the story is structured very much as a brief snapshot into Tretch's life.
When readers first meet Tretch, we get a recap on how he came to fall in love with Matt. The book then jumps forward three months, and proceeds to unfold over an abbreviated amount of time: during the holiday season/winter break.
While I loved the sentences and intricate details that Walton puts into his character building, by using the holidays, (e.g. we learn that Tretch's mom is very careful about how she approaches Christmas presents; and that Tretch's father is possibly experiencing problems at his job), the abbreivated time frame also helps the reader focus on the microcosm of Tretch's world.
We see the physical and emotional attachment that Tretch has to Matt, especially as Matt leaves for the holidays. We also see how the season give people excuses to act on impulse (e.g. Tretch is invited out by a girl who clearly has a crush on him); and also helps bring people together face-to-face, to learn truths about one another, which may not necessarily happen at other points of the year.
There's an intimacy to the season, which Walton conveys nicely and thoroughly.
Anything Could Happen is very much a book about relationships; there are friendships and family relationships that unfold at many differet levels and many different paces throughout the novel.
Matt and Tretch's relationship is the core of the novel, and Walton shows how two people can become that close, and how a friendship like that grows to for the betterment of both over time. At the same time, Walton also emphasizes (smartly) that even though there may be friendships where people have everything in common, they may not be right for each other, for a variety of reasons.
Tretch's family relationships are all special and unique in their own right, and do a long way in helping Tretch realize that love can exist on many different levels, and can be appreciated in their own ways.
On the more personal issues
One of the sub-plots of Anything Could Happen, is how Tretch handles coming out to certain members of his family and friends.
Without giving spoilers away, Walton handles those moments in a way that made me feel a lot of optimism for younger generations. While there's a much-appreciated warmth and nonchalance to many of their reactions, Tretch also isn't afraid to be straightforward and clarify (albeit, in a very friendly way), when he's concerned that a reaction might not be as friendly as he would have hoped.
(Not going to lie: I may have said, "GO YOU!" out loud, when Tretch took a moment to state where he and another character stood, after he came out to that character)
Guys. I loved and adored the ending. While it may feel open-ended to some - more on this later - that's the beauty of it. Even though things may not have worked out exactly to plan at this point in his life, there's still so much for Tretch out there. He's only at the start of his journey.
The fact that he understands this, and celebrates this, makes it an absolutely perfect, magical ending. I may have teared up a little, and immediately started playing Ellie Goulding after reading that ending, and I can guarantee that you'll want to do the same.
Things that didn't work/Things to consider:
However, I will say: some readers might not be fully engaged with the idea that the book is very much only a tiny portion of Tretch's life. From a strict structural standpoint, there is no concrete resolution - just the promise of tomorrow.
I loved this about the story - it made it really feel like Tretch is still at the start of his song, and ready to find his future - but I can see some readers feeling not fully engaged with the format. This is very much a personal preference, and I'd love to hear what you think!
We see Tretch as he grapples with a crush on best friend Matt, and the gradual realization that even if their romance isn't necssarily meant to be, there's already so much in his life to appreciate and he has an entire lifetime to figure it out. With fantastic writing, and characters that sparkle with genuine heart, this is a book that appeal to readers of all ages.
I highly, highly recommend Anything Could Happen for fans of John Green, Huntley Fitzpatrick, and Emery Lord.