When It Happens to You by Molly Ringwald (pub date 8/14/12)
Molly Ringwald was one of the ticketed authors at this year’s BEA, and I was one of the lucky ones who got to meet her and pick up a copy of her new book. The line of fans waiting to meet her was certainly booming; I couldn’t believe I even got a ticket! But though I have long admired Molly’s film career, the little voice in the back of my mind was wondering if she could write a novel. In 2010 she wrote the nonfiction book Getting the Pretty Back, so obviously she can write. But writing fiction is, as one of my professors loves to say, “a completely different animal.”
So can Molly Ringwald write fiction? Yes, yes, and more yes! I was immediately sucked into this story, and was drawn to the nuanced and realistic characters.
When It Happens to You is a novel written in the format of connected short stories. Each story is told from the perspective of a different character, but they all revolve around a central plot. The book tells the story of Greta and Phillip, a couple whose marriage is falling apart. As the stories progress, all the subtleties of their twenty-year relationship are revealed. Then we see how their marital troubles have rippled the pond around them: how they affect their friends, family and their six-year-old daughter Charlotte.
Some stories focus very little on Greta and Phillip, but still manage to circle back to the main plot. For example, the story “Olivia” is about a friend of Phillip’s who is struggling to raise a transgendered child. And “The Little One” is about an elderly woman whose unlikely kinship with Charlotte helps her rekindle her relationship with her estranged daughter.
The stories in When It Happens to You are good on their own, quite but beautiful when bound together in this collection. What I enjoyed most about this book were the characters. Ringwald’s characters are dynamic and life-like, and her stories are touching and relatable. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys literary fiction, and would love to read another novel by Molly Ringwald if she ever writes one!