Molly Ringwald's When It Happens to You

When it Happens to You - Molly Ringwald

When it happens to you, you will be surprised. That thing they say about how you knew all the time, but just weren't facing it? That might be the case, but nevertheless, there you will be.

Molly Ringwald mines the complexities of modern relationships in this gripping and nuanced collection of interlinked stories. Writing with a deep compassion for human imperfection, Ringwald follows a Los Angeles family and their friends and neighbors while they negotiate the hazardous terrain of everyday life—revealing the deceptions, heartbreak, and vulnerability familiar to us all.

In "The Harvest Moon," a stay-at-home mom grapples with age, infertility, and an increasingly distant husband. In "Ursa Minor," a former children's television star tries to rebuild his life after being hospitalized for "exhaustion." An elderly woman mourns the loss of her husband and her estranged relationship with her daughter in "The Little One." In "My Olivia," a single mother finds untapped reserves of strength to protect her flamboyant six-year-old son who wishes only to wear dresses and be addressed as Olivia. And in the devastating title story, a betrayed wife chronicles her pain and alienation, leading to an eviscerating denouement.

As the lives of these characters converge and diverge in unexpected ways, Ringwald reveals a startling eye for the universality of loss, love, and the search for connection. An unflinching yet poignant examination of the intricacies of the human heart, When It Happens to You is an auspicious literary debut.
[ synopsis from goodreads ]



So, my book club chose this book as our short story collection for the 2015 reading challenge. I, personally, had bought this book when it first came out and just never had a chance to read it. Now that I have, well, I actually found myself rather disappointed?? I'd been looking forward to reading it since we picked it (and basically since I bought it) and it just wasn't at all what I'd expected.

But let me explain.

This novel, while presented as a short story collection, is actually a collection of snapshots of the lives of the same family. Each story, while it may not center around the main family, is somehow connected to the three main characters. So it, essentially does follow their lives for about the course of a year. While this is an interesting concept, that was actually the main problem for me.

I didn't like anyone in that main family.

So while this book was beautifully written and contained many gorgeous passages (I seriously highlighted so much of this book), it wasn't really a story that I found myself invested in. It just didn't really pique my interest. I found myself continuing with it only because I'd already started the book and because it was already a book club commitment. It wasn't something I found myself wanting to get back to.

I guess I would say that this book just isn't for everyone? If it's a story that intrigues you, you'll probably like it a lot better than I did. But, as it happens, I wasn't all that fond of it. And it wasn't something I'll probably find myself reading again.

So I am glad I read it because otherwise I would've always been curious. But, by the same token, I'm also glad to be finished with it and on to other things that actually do grab my interest and that I really want to be reading.

I'll definitely read other Molly Ringwald books in the future because she really is a phenominal writer. This just wasn't really the story for me. Sadly.


review originally posted on goodreads