Saturday, December 15, 2012

These Things Happen by Richard Kramer

These Things Happen by Richard Kramer

Review by Lauren

copy from TLC Book Tours, but all opinions are my own

Official Summary: 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.

Review: I actually like books set up as These Things Happen, though I know not everyone does. Basically, you get different chapters in the point of view of different characters. The book does, indeed, open with tenth grader Wesley. He is currently living with his dad, Kenny, and his dad's partner, George, above the restaurant that George owns. While the book starst with Wesley, it also has the point of view of Theo (Wesley's best friend who just came out as gay), Kenny, George, Lola (Wesley's mom), Ben (Wesley's step-dad) and a couple other random figures in the story that give readers a bigger picture of the city and those that inhabit it.

This is a curious book because it's not really about one big event. There is something that happens in the book that shakes the family and makes them realize some things about their lives...especially concerning Wesley and how they treat him. But since this event springs a chain of reactions, it's easy to say that These Things Happen is much more about the characters than anything else. And I love books like that. I like stories that delve into a character's psyche, letting you dig into their true feelings about life, love, and happiness.

One of my favorite characters in the novel is probably George, and it seems like the author might want it that way. He at least wants you to get into George's head more so than any of the other characters, except for Wesley. George listens and pays attention, but he doesn't always know where his place is, and so he does everything he can to make sure everyone else is happy. It's easy to understand and you feel for George, because you want him to be able to answer for his own life...and Wesley does put questions to both George and his dad, and George allows himself to take the time to think about it and then answer, because he did promise an answer.

Maybe this review is a bit all over the place, but you shouldn't think the book is, as it's not. It's just one of those books that makes you think. I also mentioned in my spotlight post that the beginning of the book made me think of something by John Green and I hold to that. There is a focus on characters, and these characters are very capable of speaking well (even when it might not seem realistic, or what you're used too). It works for me, and I hope it works for you.


Sam said...

I'm definitely curious about this now! Multiple points of view can go either way with me, but I'm glad you thought it worked well here. Lovely review! :)

Maja (The Nocturnal Library) said...

I love that this sounds more like a mosaic than like a regular story told from multiple points of view. It sounds very unusual and warm somehow and I'm definitely interested in reading it.
Fantastic review, Lauren!

Liviania said...

I love multiple POVs as long as each POV is developed. (Mostly I hate when all the narrating characters sound like the same person.)

Smart Ass Sara said...

I loved George too! I really struggled with the book because I was waiting for it to be ... more? But I still ended up loving it so in the end, I don't know what the hell to think. LOL. :)

Erika said...

This sounds like a great book - somewhat reminiscent of Jerry Spinelli's Loser. :)

Rachel said...

Hmm...not sure if this would be for me. I usually like romance in my stories but I do like different POVs. Great review Lauren. :)

trish said...

I love books that focus on the characters. And snappy dialogue is just icing on the cake.