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A Reader of Fictions: Review: These Things Happen Blog Tour

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Review: These Things Happen Blog Tour

These Things Happen

Author: Richard Kramer
Pages: 272
Publisher: Unbridled Books
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours

Description from Goodreads:
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.

First Sentence: "A lot can happen in a day, sometimes."

In my recent reads, I've noticed a trend: there seem to be a lot more books now that take place on an accelerated time line. The whole book covering less than a week of time, where I feel like I remember reading a lot more books that took a lot more time. These Things Happens spans only a couple of days, but really packs a wallop nonetheless. Kramer focuses on the power of family, and embraces  the larger definition of what a family can be.

These Things Happen reminds me a bit of the show Modern Family, not so much in tone but in the idea of the 'modern family,' full of divorces, remarriages, straight men discovering their gay selves. Wesley's parents divorced ten years before, but, now, his mother sent him to live with his father, Kenny, feeling that in the transition to manhood Wesley should get to know his father. Kenny, a talented lawyer, works as an activist for the gay community and lives in a tiny apartment with his partner George, restaurateur and ex-actor.

The catalyst for the event's of These Things Happen starts with Wesley's best friend, Theo, who, upon winning the student election, concludes his victory speech by announcing to the student body that he is gay. Theo's pronouncement doesn't have an affect on their friendship, but does change Wesley's relationship with his family, in two different ways, one which I can discuss and one which I can't, because it would spoiler things for you.

Theo asks Wesley to speak with Kenny and George, to find out how they first knew they were gay and whether they think that being gay is a choice. Wesley promises to do so, good friend that he is. He never really talked with them about that before, and his sudden interest causes chaos in the family, curiosity about Wesley's interest and introspection on the part of George on how to answer those questions.

My favorite part of this novel, really, is the relationship between George and Wesley. Though George and Wesley are not related, not legally connected in any way, they have a closer relationship than Wesley does with his father, mother or step-father. George might be expected to have the least reason to help Wesley, but he's the one who can always make time and listen. I found this to be such a powerful theme, because I personally never did think that a blood relation indicated any sort of special bond with someone. Families are made, not so much by blood, but by time and caring. He doesn't need to be legally or biologically tied to George for them to have a powerful connection.

Kramer tells this story using multiple perspectives, though the last chapter is in third person, which seems a somewhat odd decision. Each voice has its own cadence and feels unique, the most important factor in using multiple perspectives effectively. Kramer did best, I think with Wesley, who seems the main character of the piece. More than anything, These Things Happen is a coming of age story, and might appeal to both adults and teenagers.

In These Things Happen, Kramer tackles the complicated field of modern familial relationships and weaves a touching story, set in the busy backdrop of New York City. His tale feels utterly authentic and true.

Rating: 3.5/5

Favorite Quote:
"'I just hope you feel about your life how I feel about mine. Do you understand that?'
   Wesley nods; he does, and he feels understanding, sweet and prickly, flow through him. 'I do,' he says. 'You cherish it.'"

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Blogger Jenni said...

Modern Family FTW! That show is the best!

This sounds so good! Now I am picturing hilarious Modern Family scenes when Manny takes a special interest in his half-brother's relationship LOL

I like the subject of how families are made not born. I agree, I have people in my life that I am much close too than my siblings.

December 4, 2012 at 12:16 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

This isn't as quirky funny as Modern Family, but it had the GLBT issues and the complicated family structure, including the father who's not good at showing his affection, and a mother who's a bit too controlling.

Families are totally made!

December 4, 2012 at 1:15 PM  
Blogger brandileigh2003 said...

George and Wesley's relationship sounds great. Thanks for review and glad you enjoyed.
Happy reading,
Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

December 4, 2012 at 8:59 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Wow, this sounds so good. I haven't seen Modern Family, but I can see myself falling easily into the relationships of this novel by the way you describe it. Thanks for the great review!

December 4, 2012 at 9:33 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Watch Modern Family! Also, this is totally worth a read!

December 5, 2012 at 8:42 AM  
Blogger trish said...

I NEED to watch Modern Family! I've heard it's awesome.

I've been thinking a lot about how my MIL is more of a mom to me than my mom ever was! At this point I don't need mothering, per se, but she's an older woman with whom I can talk and laugh with, ask her questions about parenting, and generally have her be a sounding board. Basically, it's how I imagine a great mother/daughter relationship is.

Thanks for being on the tour!

December 6, 2012 at 1:18 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

So very awesome. Took me a few episodes to get into it, but I love it now.

Oh, that's lovely. I've always thought the stigma about the in-laws was a bit silly, because, if anything, it would make sense to like your in-laws more than your parents, since you should know what you're getting into with them. With your parents, you have no say at all.

Thanks for having me!

December 10, 2012 at 1:50 PM  

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