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When It Happens Hardcover – May 4, 2006

136 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 9 Up–In the first chapter, readers find out that Sara is entering her senior year hoping that she'll find true love. She is encouraged when Dave asks her out. He is part of the in crowd, and she begins to hang out with his friends, at the expense of her relationships with her girlfriends. Next, readers hear from Tobey. He has slept with a couple of girls, but is uncomfortable with that kind of relationship. He thinks Sara is his real thing, and he asks her friend Laila to help him win her over. Tobey and Sara become partners in music class and find they have much in common. Dave, on the other hand, is a disappointment to her. When he pressures Sara to sleep with him, she finally realizes that she confused her attraction to his good looks and connections with honest feelings. Through alternating chapters, readers get the perspectives of Tobey and Sara about their developing relationship. The easy style of the writing reflects how teens speak, and some of the characters' language is realistically gritty. This is a fun romance with lots of dialogue that, due to the many popular-culture references, will become dated quickly.–Karen Hoth, Marathon Middle/High School, FL
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Gr. 9-12. Told from the alternating perspectives of its two main characters, both seniors in high school, this story owes much to (and occasionally references) the 1989 teen romance film Say Anything. To brainy and beautiful Sara, Tobey is nothing more than a slacker band guy with no future prospects. This is unfortunate for Tobey, who has dedicated himself to winning her affections--a special challenge given the presence of Dave, Sara's stereotypically gorgeous, popular, and (of course) rotten boyfriend. It's a well-known and well-loved construct; unfortunately, Sara is not quite as likable as readers might wish, given her rigidity and often unkind behavior. Tobey's appeal is real, but is spoiled by occasionally loutish sexual thoughts (fantasies involve "his headboard . . . bumping against the wall") and by the ease with which he discards his worldview to impress his crush. Unlike Say Anything, this love story doesn't come together, but the premise will inevitably draw a crowd, and there is real charm in the vibrant supporting characters and their authentic, humorous dialogue. Holly Koelling
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 500L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Juvenile; 1st edition (May 4, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670060291
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670060290
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (136 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,533,162 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Susane Colasanti is the bestselling author of When It Happens, Take Me There, Waiting for You, Something Like Fate, So Much Closer, Keep Holding On, All I Need, Now and Forever, and the City Love trilogy. Before becoming a full-time author in 2007, she was a high school science teacher for ten years. Susane has a bachelor's degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a master's degree from New York University. She lives in New York City.

You can connect with Susane at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By TeensReadToo on November 30, 2006
Format: Hardcover
When her senior year starts, Sara's attention is focused on college and on Dave. Dave is a new student and a popular athlete, and Sara thinks he may just be a candidate for the "something real" she wants to find. Tobey, however, is focused on his music and on Sara. He wants Sara to fall in love with him (as he is in love with her, despite the fact that the two are not close), but unfortunately he's got Dave as competition.

Despite Sara's attraction to Dave, Tobey and Sara are obviously meant to be together. They're almost unrealistically compatible, having even the little things--such as how they eat their onion rings--in common. Even more importantly, they both want the same thing. They're both searching for "the one," a soulmate, what Sara calls "something real"--could they find it in each other? Even if they do, there are still some obstacles. Tobey and Sara want different things from their futures, but can they overcome that?

WHEN IT HAPPENS is a wonderful story told in the fresh voices of Tobey and Sara. It's a romance, certainly, but there's more to it than that. Tobey and Sara are fantastic, likeable, and believable characters, with lives outside of each other, which adds an extra dimension to what would otherwise just be one of a million cheesy romance novels, but is instead a wonderfully written and almost too-good-to-be-true story of two teenagers looking for love.

Reviewed by: Jocelyn Pearce
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Tasnim Majumder on May 16, 2006
Format: Hardcover
When It Happens is a book you must read. This book will take you to a journey that you will never forget. As you read When It Happens, you don't have to rip your hair out thinking what the other person is thinking about, because Susane Colasanti wrote this book from the two main character's perspective. The characters are so well developed that it is hard to believe the book is fiction. If you are a girl this book will give you a sneak peek to boys mind, and if you are a boy this book will show you a part of woman you have never seen before. I love this book so much that my mom had to take it away from me because I wouldn't go to sleep. The reason I am writing this review is because I don't want you to miss anything. So have fun reading!
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21 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Crease in the Page on August 5, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The writing style of this author is not particularly good. The plot line is not at all creative. However, I'll give the author credit: her writing does create a strong sensory appeal, by using descriptions of sounds and sights and smells.

The subject matter of this book concerns me. The whole focus in the second half of the book is sex--will they have sex? Or won't they? The book gets very lusty. I don't care if you're an adult or a teen; should sex be the central focus of a romantic relationship? Aside from physical attraction, the two main characters have a relationship based on things like enjoying the same music and liking mustard on their burgers. That's deep. I wonder what the title is referring to--when what happens? A good relationship? Or sex? Sex might be a valid topic for teens, so maybe the sex subject isn't what bothered me so much. Sensuality combined with shallowness is what got to me. Yuck.

I wouldn't offer this book to my kids as a reading option.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on November 11, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This books catches you from the first page, with the ongoing love story. It is great for teens of all ages. It shows you that the most popular guy in school isn't always the nice guy or right guy for you. It shows to follow your dreams, because anything can happen. Most of all its just a fabulous book that every teen guy and girl should read.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Bianca on July 21, 2006
Format: Hardcover
What was so fantastic about this book was that it showed both the female point of view and the male point of view to every interaction throughout the book. I might compare this book to the movie Say Anything in the way that Tobey is a typical teenager with average grades who is trying to win the beautiful class brain. It shows how compatibility is so important in a relationship and even shows the pressure of having sex. All in all, I found the characters to be admirable and entertaining, especially how all Tobey can think about is being near her and having sex with her. I find this to be a very typical teenage male way of thinking. Overall, a wonderful book and well worth the while.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Steph on October 25, 2008
Format: Paperback
God, I needed this. (A girl has much to grain from a pinch of romance amidst the midterm hustle.) I have no idea what worked here to make this novel as, I don't know, endearing? Whatever it was, kudos to Ms Colasanti--a mi me gusta.

Okay, so the theme of this novel is already stamped on the title--what happens when it happens. "It" being "something real". (I'm gonna do an adjunct summary to the one above because I'm having fun describing this story. Bear with me.) Voila:

See, the (very likeable) heroine, Sara, gets caught up in this relationship with one of those projected Everything Boys--popular, good-looking, charismatic, *barfs out every Gary Stu quality under the sun* (etc.). She's thrilled--wouldn't you be? Except that Dave (that's the Ken doll) doesn't make her feel very special; in fact, he's only in it to, you know, "get down tonight" and she's just not ready for that. Being with him is labor in and of itself cos the dude is, when you get down to it, a son of a bitch.

Meanwhile, over in Reality, there's Tobey, a seemingly confident (not so much on the inside, as seen through his first person narration) musician who wants to be with Sara. While she's undergoing her will-she-or-won't-she in regards to breaking up with Ken Doll, Tobey keeps devising ways to get her to get it over with already because he thinks she's his "something real" and vice versa. (! Too cute.)

This isn't really a spoiler because any half-wit can probably happens: They get together. (!! Too cute.) And unlike with Dave, Sara feels this incredible connection to Tobey. He does too, with her. It's instant--it's a click--it's love.

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