I received an e-mail saying that a book by Molly Ringwald was up for grabs. Well, as a staunch lover of Farmer Ted in 16 Candles...
...as one perpetually confused as to why a girl would choose whiny, popular sheep, Blane...
...over funny, original, self assured and love stricken Duckie in Pretty in Pink...
...or how Princess Claire could be into this dude in The Breakfast Club...
...I would say I've seen a movie or two of hers and couldn't wait to read her autobiography. Wait....what??? Upon further inspection of the email, I come to realize it isn't another cheesy celebrity bio, but in fact literary fiction. About loss...and betrayal...and infidelity...and other deep stuff. I couldn't possibly say no, and I am soooo glad I didn't!
When it Happens to You by Molly Ringwald
"When it happens to you, you will be surprised. That thing they say about how you knew about it all the time, but just weren't facing it? That might be the case, but nevertheless, there you will be."
(Back cover description)
Dang. This girl can write. Honestly, I was expecting a book whose writing was ho hum but got picked up by a big publisher because of the name on the front cover. Wrong. Sammy Davis Baker Junior (Yet another 16 Candles reference, can't help myself!) can WRITE! Let's start by discussing the format of the novel. It is a novel in short stories and each story is connected to the others by an overall story line of marital infidelity and it's consequences, who it affects and how. I especially enjoyed reading the first half, because a story would start out and you didn't know who the characters were, or how they fit into the story. It was an exciting little treasure hunt with every story to find that connective link. The format allowed me to stay engaged in a storyline that otherwise may not have held my interest.
Now on to the meat and potatoes of any book. The characters. I felt them to be extremely well fleshed out, honest and interesting. Ms. Ringwald sucks you right into her character's world with honest writing, beautiful and eloquent wordage and very good pacing. I liked the length of the book and I even liked (I can't believe I'm saying this, it goes against everything I've ever believed in with books) that every single angle wasn't explored and analyzed to death. Several characters were talked about, but their motivations for odd behavior weren't always explained and where they ended up wasn't clearly stated. It worked because it kept the focus of the story where it belonged-on Greta and Phillip.
Lastly, I won't give away the ending, which was a little too abrupt for me, but I will say it isn't depressing, as I fully expected it to be. I'm not saying that everything turns up roses for everyone. No one is waiting by their bright red hot rod to give the main girl a birthday cake (sorry guys, 16 Candles again)...
...no one does a victorious, if cheesy, fist pump at the end...
...but there is some hope of happiness and closure for the main couple. Again, I feel like it was a little abrupt, I would have liked to explore a little beyond what was given, but I guess you can't have everything, right? Well no, that's a lie, sometimes a book really is everything you ever wanted it to be (thank you J.K. Rowling for setting my expectations waaaaaaaay too high) Jeez, you'd think I can get through one post without mentioning my beloved Harry Potter. I digress. Molly Ringwald is legit. That's that. The book is good. It's not the most amazing thing I ever read, but it was well done and definitely worth the time I took to read it. It was engaging, intelligent, honest and entertaining. However, it didn't have that ever elusive "it" factor that kept me up all night thinking about it, and thusly (is that a word? eh, don't care, I'm using it anyway) I rate it a 3, Find a Used Book Store.
Tell me what you think!
Have you read the book?
What are your thoughts on Molly Ringwald being a literary fiction writer?
Did I go a little overkill on the John Hughes 80s Teen Movie references? It's okay, tell me the truth, I can handle it, I promise ;)
Sound off at the comments!
If When it Happens to You were a movie, it would likely be rated a heavy PG-13 for strong language and sexual content.
***FTC Disclosure: When it Happens to You was provided free of charge by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own and not influenced by any publisher, publicist, author or blogger.***