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When It Happens to You: A Novel in Storiesby Molly Ringwald
Synopses & Reviews
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.
"This 'novel in stories' is set in the L.A. you see on television, the one where everyone is somehow connected to everyone else. Stories or titled chapters center on Phillip and Greta, who have a daughter, fertility issues, and a marriage going sour, but we also meet people whose lives touch Greta's and Phillip's in a variety of ways, like their much older neighbor; a mother at their daughter's school; and a semi-washed up actor, his twin sister, and her French boyfriend. In many ways Ringwald (Getting the Pretty Back, a memoir) knows of what she speaks, having spent many years in the '80s as a fixture of the Brat Pack, and she has the mechanics of writing down, but you can hear the gears grinding; the stories are often exposition heavy, the characters seem more defined by their situations than their idiosyncratic histories, and things tend to resolve a little too tidily, even when the point is the continuing messiness of relationships. As a result, this debut work of fiction, which reads well, never gets traction in your mind. It's probably best seen as an example of one of celebrity's mixed blessings: your name gets you in the door but your apprenticeship takes place in public." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"When It Happens to You is absolutely lovely, a smart, emotionally sophisticated, intricately dovetailed novel of stories. World, I'm telling you now: Molly Ringwald is the real deal." Lauren Groff, author of Arcadia
"Molly Ringwald understands how families work and uses her considerable talents to make them come alive on the page." Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story
"These stories sizzle with rare insight about the reverberations of betrayal and of love. Ringwald wisely never judges her characters, but lets them live out their complexities on the page, flawed and endearing, recognizable and also new. When It Happens To You is an impressive fiction debut." Robin Black, author of If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This
"When It Happens to You is an inventive and compelling portrait of love in the modern age." J. Courtney Sullivan, author of Maine
"Molly Ringwald's eight electric stories are alive with Joycean insight-piercing, epiphanic moments of terror, humor, and transcendence. Together they offer a deeply moving portrait of modern life." Eleanor Henderson, author of Ten Thousand Saints
"[A] graceful and deft debut." Booklist
Tales of love, loss, and betrayal are at the heart of When It Happens to You, the debut story collection from actress and author Molly Ringwald. A Hollywood icon, Ringwald defined the teenage experience in the eighties in such classic films as Pretty in Pink, The Breakfast Club, and Sixteen Candles. Now the star of ABC Family's hit series, The Secret Life of the American Teenager, and author of the bestselling memoir Getting the Pretty Back, Ringwald brings that same compelling candor she displayed in her film roles to the unforgettable characters she has created in this series of linked stories about the particular challenges, joys, and disappointments of adult relationships. Here are stories that grapple with infertility and infidelity, fame and familial discord, in a magnificent collection that will resonate broadly with readers — from fans of Melissa Banks to Meg Wolitzer to Lorrie Moore.
About the Author
Molly Ringwald's work in film is characterized by what the renowned New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael called her "charismatic normality." Throughout her extensive career, she has worked with such directors as Paul Mazursky, John Hughes, Cindy Sherman, and Jean-Luc Godard. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, Parade, Esquire, and the Hartford Courant. She lives with her husband and three children in Los Angeles.
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