[GUEST POST] Anything Could Happen - Will Walton
Today's review comes to you from Keith Reynolds. Keith has previously reviewed for this blog. He lives and works in Vancouver, BC, and can be reached online via Twitter (@slothra). And now, here is his review of Anything Could Happen...
I made the mistake of not listening the titular track of this novel when I was writing this review, until my second attempt. In fact, I think I may have done myself a disservice by not having a dedicated playlist to the afternoon it took me to read through it.
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 gift of nostalgia for me, set to modern music. The charming shops, the friendly old people, and the suffocating fear of having a secret found out, it all worked. The authentic small-townisms are steeped with genuine emotion and detail that it’s hard not to feel like you’re the one desperately in love with your best friend. In Tretch, Walton captures all of these awkward and painful moments perfectly.
My favourite part was probably how well Walton developed his protagonist’s love of Matt. Instead of stripping Tretch of his love and desire for his straight best friend, he challenges the expectation that gay guys should apologize for being themselves. Instead of denying his feelings or bartering for acceptance, Tretch stays (mostly) true to himself. Indeed, in many ways he funnels his frustration into a liberating denouement and saves the day.
While the heart of the story lives in Tretch and Matt’s relationship, there are other notable points. Matt has two dads which not only is a win for visibility, but creates some truly touching and poignant moments. The love that the two share are an inspiration to Tretch who at one point yearns to speak to them about being gay. It’s so subtle a yearning for it almost feels unconscious and universal like a post-hypnotic suggestion.
Whether you’re looking for a fun beach read or something to reflect on during a summer of discovery, Anything Could Happen is an excellent addition to the body of Gay YA. Whatever you do, though, have a good playlist ready to round out the experience.