Monday, November 19, 2012

Book Review: These Things Happen

Media Type: Print Book
Title: These Things Happen
Author: Richard Kramer
Publisher: Unbridled Books
Pages: Hardcover; 272
Release Date: November 7, 2012
Source: TLC Book Tours
Genre: Contemporary Fiction

HDB Rating: 5 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy stories with great characters and a solid plot.

Add it on: Goodreads / Shelfari / Amazon / B&N
A domestic story told in numerous original and endearing voices. The story opens with Wesley, a tenth grader, and involves his two sets of parents (the mom and her second husband, a very thoughtful doctor; and the father who has become a major gay lawyer/activist and his fabulous "significant other" who owns a restaurant).

Wesley is a fabulous kid, whose equally fabulous best friend Theo has just won a big school election and simultaneously surprises everyone in his life by announcing that he is gay. No one is more surprised than Wesley, who actually lives temporarily with his gay father and partner, so that he can get to know his rather elusive dad. When a dramatic and unexpected trauma befalls the boys in school, all the parents converge noisily in love and well-meaning support. But through it all, each character ultimately is made to face certain challenges and assumptions within his/her own life, and the playing out of their respective life priorities and decisions is what makes this novel so endearing and so special.

It's been a long while since I've read a book that made me both laugh and cry on the same page. Richard Kramer's These Things Happen is a book that contains hilarity and introspection, and does it in a way that blurs the line between the two. I fell in love from page one, and you wouldn't have been able to pry this book out of my hands if you tried. I read straight through. That, in itself, is a testament to how amazing this book really is.

It's important to me that I praise the characters first and foremost. Wesley especially stole my heart. Although I'm sure most readers will profess that there is no adolescent out there that talks the way Wesley and his friend Theo do, I really don't care either way. The point remains that Wesley brings a voice to the mix that is sweet and genuine. Add in other vivid and candid characters, and you have a story that just begs to be read. I'd say more, but I really feel like this is something a reader needs to experience for themselves.

I think that Kramer approaches being gay in a way that is unique, and well done. He explores the relationships between his characters in a manner that allows the reader to see the rawest parts of them. Wesley and his very patchwork family each have to learn how to accept and understand one another. At the same time, they must learn who they themselves truly are, and learn to love even the roughest parts. The complexities of familial relationships are taken to a whole new level here, and it's a beautiful thing. I especially loved the ending (there were tears in my eyes, I'll admit it). Yet again though, you'll have to read this on your own to truly understand what I mean.

I know I'm rambling, but I'll end with a truth. These Things Happen is a unique and gorgeously written book. It's a rich tapestry, with a deep look at who we are when we think no one else is looking. I loved this book. Honestly, I'd love to put it on the shelf of every reader out there. If you appreciate a good story, one that deals with important topics in a stunning manner, then this is a read to add to your list.

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.


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