“Dancing is spiritual. Dancing is personal. Some people look at a dancing person and say, What a total show-off. They only notice the body of the dancing person. They look at the way the elbows jut out, the way the hips shake and the neck bends. They criticize all of these things, saying, This dancing person shouldn’t be dancing. This dancing person has no rhythm.
But the dancer is immune to all of this.” – Will Walton, Anything Could Happen
Anything Could Happen is a feel-good novel filled with lessons on love. Written by Will Walton, the book centers on teenage boy Tretch and his struggles in the small town of Warmouth. As Tretch goes on winter break, he’s forced to confront the heavy pressure haunting him; How can he deal with the crush on his best friend Matt Gooby? Tretch starts the journey of coming out, finding out what love means, and how to stay positive when the world feels like it’s crashing down.
Perhaps one of the best parts of Anything Could Happen is it’s treatment of being a story. While any book can be an intricate collection of characters and writing, not every book can make a reader feel as if they belong in what they’re reading. But, Anything Could Happen makes readers feel more than welcome. The book can be compared to a nostalgic Christmas movie at times due to its attention on warmth and family, where passages are filled with festivities and movement to bring readers into Warmouth to experience it themselves.
The experience Walton creates can be seen in lines like, “The courthouse at the end of the street has turned off its lights, but the Christmas tree shines bright. I think about my parents, and how funny tonight is shaping up to be. The festive lights make a kind of haze along the tops of the stores. It’s like Barrow Street is right below heaven or something, and Matt and Amy and I are right above it.” Whether it be the scenery or even the attention to the small details, the book seems to carry more than it’s weight in imagery.
Beyond the invitations to the readers through nostalgia though, Will Walton also turns Anything Could Happen on it’s heel in the face of expectation. I’ll be honest, when I picked up Anything Could Happen, I thought I knew what the main lessons were going to be and assumed the story would be little more than your average pining romance. However, none of these assumptions came true. Though I’m unable to say how without spoiling the book, I can confidently claim this novel is not your average love story. In fact, it may not even be a love story at all, or at least not a love story for who you think it is.
If I were to make any complaints about this novel, however, I’d have to say at least two things- character and audience. Don’t take me wrong, Will Walton surely makes Anything Could Happen a good read. The character’s just don’t seem to match. Many besides Tretch are static, and while that may be to focus on the main character more, it almost makes the side-character comparable to cut-out pieces. They’re stuck here or there for a few scenes and are then taken out afterward. Only a few experience change or conclusions, and those who do are given little time to do so. Readers are forced to make their own assumptions most of the time, and may even be disappointed to find the empty spaces they’re left with.
But do flaws make Anything Could Happen a bad book? Not really. Anything Could Happen accomplishes it’s goal to teach readers to be more open with people, show the necessity of understanding, and the self-care some forget. Thus, I give Anything Could Happen a 7.8/10. While being close to something wonderful, the book is best as a reminder of care and “jolly” winter memories I’ll be seeing again when Christmas comes around.