Author: Molly Ringwald
Published: 2012 – Simon & Schuster
A Novel in Stories
From a mother as she grapples with age, infertility and an increasingly distant husband to a former children’s television star who tries to rebuild his life after being hospitalized for ‘exhaustion’. From an elderly woman mourning the loss o her husband to a single mother who finds the strength to protect her flamboyant six-year-old son, these stories follow the hazardous terrain of everyday life, revealing the deceptions, heartbreak, and vulnerability familiar to us all.
When It Happens to You is an unflinching yet poignant examination of the intricacies of the human heart and an auspicious literary debut.
When… betrayal comes it takes many forms. A husband’s betrayal of a wife, a mother’s betrayal of her son, a woman betrayed by the loss of her soulmate.
When It… comes it will take you by surprise. But it will happen. And…
When It Happens… everything will change. You may not know it now but…
When It Happens to You… you will understand.
Review: This is a novel of short stories, wound together with connective links to make up one story. There is essentially one plot running through the whole novel, but there are also other stories told, peripheral to the central plot but linked in via a character connection.
The story centres around Greta, Phillip & their daughter Charlotte. As their family slowly falls apart, we explore the different emotions and perspectives through their interactions and relationships with other people.
While I was reading this, I found that I struggled a little with the fact that the short stories are… well, short stories. They are interspersed throughout the book, and I did have difficulty reconciling the completion of one story within a longer, ongoing story. Some of them didn’t feel particularly… finished. Particularly for me, the story of Marina, who befriends Phillip following the separation. They develop a friendship as their children, Charlotte and Oliver, play together. The story of Marina and Oliver is a complex one that I would have liked to explore further. Marina is struggling with the fact that her son identifies as a girl, and wishes to dress like one and be called Olivia. He feels it is simple – he is a girl, and that’s that. She forsees his life, and how difficult this journey will be.
This book highlights struggles and repercussions as a marriage falls apart, from the perspective of the betrayed, the betrayer, and those impacted such as children and family. At different points in the book I both liked and disliked most of the characters, depending on the point of view we were looking from. It’s definitely a book that makes you think, and it will stay with me for a while. I’d like to re-read this once I’ve had some time to think and digest it, I think this is one of those that you get more out of every time you read it.