When It Happens to You by Molly Ringwald

Format: E-book

Length: 256 pages

Publisher: Harper Collins

Publication Date: August 14, 2012

From Goodreads: 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.

Here’s what I thought: 

When I first saw that Molly Ringwald had a book out, I knew I had to read it. I’m a big fan of the brat pack movies, but there’s also just something special about Molly. I think for women of my generation, Molly was a role model because she showed that sometimes the smart, cool but quirky girl does get the guy, at least in Hollywood.

I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect from her writing, but I was immediately drawn into the lives of the characters in this collection of interwoven stories. Each story is told from a slightly different perspective, so that the big event that connects them all is seen from many angles, which I found to be a very effective technique. I found the world that she portrayed, in the setting of modern-day L.A., to be a believable one, and although I didn’t especially love any of the characters (with the exception of Marina and Oliver, more on that), I felt compassion for them and the issues they struggled with. They are flawed, yes, but they are human.

So, Marina and Oliver. Although I enjoyed all the stories in the book, “My Olivia” was by far my favorite. It centers on Marina, a peripheral character to the family that is at the heart of the book. She gives birth to a son, Oliver, who from a very early age is certain that he is, in fact, a girl. The depiction of Marina as a mother made me cry, it was so beautiful. (Honestly, I’m getting teary-eyed now just thinking and writing about it). I don’t know if it’s realistic or not, but I can only hope that there are people like this who exist in the world. That is not to say that the decisions and actions she takes are easy, but in the end she loves her son and accepts him for who he is. The last line of the story just slays me, too.

There were a few places where I felt like the book could have benefited from some more careful editing. Sometimes the writing wanders off into extrapolation on the part of the narrator, and it jarred me out of the story. I wasn’t crazy about the ending. But, all in all, I really enjoyed this book and I hope that we’ll see more of Molly Ringwald the writer. Highly recommended.

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5 thoughts on “When It Happens to You by Molly Ringwald

  1. Jennifer

    When I first heard that she had a novel coming out I was all WHAT? 😉 But I’ve heard really good things about it and I’m sure I’ll get to it one of these days!

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