“There’s sickness, and there’s sadness. But the thing is, there’s love, too. I try never to forget that.”
Warning: if you read this book, you will have Ellie Goulding’s song “Anything Could Happen” on repeat for days. Listen to it here.
Anything Can Happen is the debut novel of author Will Walton and it was an absolute treat. Every scene had me engrossed with the story and I genuinely had a really good time reading this book. I usually reserve high ratings for novels that impact me on some sort of an emotional level, but with Anything Can Happen, I had so much fun reading this book, I had to give it a deserved star rating.
Tretch is a closeted gay boy living in a very small town which makes it difficult for him to keep his feelings for his straight best friend a secret. Matt is completely oblivious to Tretch’s feelings and that only makes matters worse when Matt develops a crush on girl. Not only does Tretch have to contend with his growing feelings, but he has to deal with his family who have no idea as to who he really is, the girl at the bookstore who is harbouring a massive crush on him, and a bully at school who is so close to guessing the truth that Tretch is struggling to keep secret. Despite being an amazing dancer, Tretch must learn to step outside of his comfort zone and show the world his true self.
I thoroughly enjoyed this story. I don’t know if I just read this book at the right time, or if it’s because I’ve been on a contemporary binge for the past few weeks, but I found the plot compelling and the characters quirky and warm. I was very surprised by this as well, considering the plot is very simple and placid. I do have to warn readers not to expect a dark, angsty coming-of-age story. Anything Could Happen is nothing like that – it is the journey of a young man trying to come to terms with his sexuality, his friendships and his family relations. Tretch explores his life and we are given a chance to experience it along with him.
Tretch was a very relatable character. His feelings of inadequacy and issues he has being truthful with his family are all things readers will be able to understand and connect with. Despite the issues he has, Tretch is a very optimistic boy who has a loving relationship with his parents, brother and grandparents. He enjoys reading classic books, he loves Taylor Swift and he lives to dance. I think the dancing scenes were my favourite of the entire novel. Tretch becomes the person he truly is deep down when he dances and it’s so refreshing to read about a teenage boy experiencing this.
Every other character in this novel is fully fleshed out and complex, with their own individual personalities and experiences. You can really tell how hard Walton worked on these characters, embodying them with rich emotions, desires and love. I was especially intrigued with Bobby, Tretch’s bully. My only criticism is that I wish we got the chance to explore Bobby’s backstory a little more and what made him hate Tretch as strongly as he did. I, for one, believed that Bobby was also closeted and couldn’t handle the fact that he was in love with Tretch, but nothing like that came to fruition, it was just something I conveyed from the text.
Matt was another sweetheart I wanted to bundle in my arms and hug. His love for Tretch, while platonic, was very sweet to read. I’m so glad Walton has given a fantastic representation of male friendship, one that doesn’t continually articulate “No Homo” as soon as a deep connection is developed. Tretch’s family were loving and understanding, and you just know that they are going to accept Tretch when he finds the courage to come out.
The writing was fantastic as well. As it is from the perspective of a teenage boy, I was worried that the writing would be subdued with silly innuendos and references to comics and video games. But that wasn’t the case here. Walton’s writing perfectly matched the tone and sweetness of the book. Walton was able to perfectly get into the mind-space of a confused, sixteen year old boy and that made the novel shine.
The ending was a little abrupt and there is definitely plenty of room to explore Tretch’s continuing self-discovery in a second novel. I really hope Walton makes that decision and writes a sequel. There is so much more to Tretch’s story. If Walton needs assistance, he can contact me because I have so many ideas for a second book – and yes it involves romance.
Anything Could Happen was a quick and easy-to-read novel, but more than that, it was loving and tender and constantly made me smile. I can’t wait to see what else Will Walton has in store for us. I will definitely be picking up his future novels.