Well, That Was Unexpected
by Jesse Q. Sutanto
Releasing on September 27th, 2022
Published by Delacorte Press
Young Adult Fiction—Contemporary, Romance
An outrageous, laugh-out-loud YA rom-com about a girl who’s whisked from LA to her mother’s native Indonesia to get back to her roots and finds herself fake-dating the son of one of the wealthiest families there, from the author of Dial A for Aunties.
After Sharlot Citra’s mother catches her in a compromising position, she finds herself whisked away from LA to her mother’s native Indonesia. It’ll be exactly what they both need. Or so her mother thinks.
When George Clooney Tanuwijaya’s father (who is obsessed with American celebrities) fears he no longer understands how to get through to his son, he decides to take matters into his own hands.
To ensure that their children find the right kind of romantic partner, Sharlot’s mother and George’s father do what any good parent would do: they strike up a conversation online, pretending to be their children.
When the kids find out about their parents’ actions, they’re horrified. Not even a trip to one of the most romantic places on earth could possibly make Sharlot and George fall for each other. But as the layers peel back and the person they thought they knew from online is revealed, the truth becomes more complicated. As unlikely as it may seem, did their parents manage to find their true match after all?
Trigger/Content Warning(s): Sexism, Mentioned Homophobia, Misogyny, Bullying, Cyber-bullying, Death of Parent(s)
Disclaimer: I was provided a physical galley by the author and publisher for the purpose of providing an honest review. This does not affect my opinion.
Well, That Was Unexpected was a whirlwind, adventure rom-com between two messy teens just doing the best they can. Filled with self-discovery, growth, and learning, this book is perfect for teens and anyone who might feel a bit misplaced in life’s direction.
First and foremost, I would like to address that on page 48 of the galley, there is a reference to Harry Potter that either needs to be taken out or replaced in the final copies. As has been discussed multiple times over the last several years, Harry Potter references are not appropriate and are harmful to several minorities when included. As we are now in 2022, it is past time for these references to not be used.
The beginning of this story, I will admit, was a bit difficult to find myself getting into. The first chapter immediately jumped into the premise alluded to in the synopsis, and while that was nice, the book began to shimmy off into a rough-set pace thereafter.
Jesse Q. Sutanto has a great writing style, and that is mainly what kept me reading. She is able to pull readers in and keep them hooked, so much so that you never want to put the book down. There is emotion, there is thoughts and feelings and decisions, and a myriad of other things that happen in the story that readers can imagine themselves in because of the way Sutanto has crafted it through detail and direction.
The characters in this book were entirely relatable. Sharlot is a messy teenager who makes rash decisions and has a habit of realizing it later on after the situation has passed. George is an average teenager just trying to swim through the water that is life without getting into a publicly embarrassing situation. When their equally worried and somewhat overbearing parents flock over their social media pages and catfish each other, forcing together a date between their kids, the timelines get intertwined.
Sharlot and George started off strongly disliking each other because of the circumstances their parents created. With the cloud of pre-judgment hanging, their first encounter was equally awkward on both sides of the spectrum. However, as the story progressed, readers are brought into the slow burn, falling for their fake-dating partner we were promised. I will point out that, this did take much longer than anticipated. Much of the first half of the story is setting these two up and getting their frustrations into play, while the last half is exploring what their growing feelings could mean if they acted on them.
The plot of this story was entirely entertaining, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. There were several twists that were, as the title proclaimed, unexpected. And for a specific few I do not want to spoil, I do think they were handled very well and appropriately. That being said, I do also feel like the ending–while likable–could also have been given a bit more nurturing than what was given.
Overall, I did really Well, That Was Unexpected. In true Jesse Q. Sutanto fashion, it gave unexpected turns and held that keen style that one can place whenever reading a book by her. For that, I give this book a starred (recommended) rating. I look forward to reading Jesse’s next book, and I do urge readers to pick this title up.