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When It Happens to You: A Novel in Stories [Hardcover]

Molly Ringwald
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (324 customer reviews)

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, August 2012: Any lingering Brat Pack associations you may bring to When It Happens to You, Molly Ringwald’s first novel, will rapidly evaporate. Ringwald renders the families and lovers in her intertwined stories with a compassionate eye for the kind of heartbreak that upends reality, as well as a keen sense of the more subtle ways in which trust breaks and mends. Each of her eight stories explores the dynamics of fidelity and betrayal, from “The Harvest Moon”--which illuminates the night a mother realizes the fickle nature of her daughter, her husband, and her own body--to “Mea Culpa,” where we see the erosion of her husband’s desire, to the gut punch of a title story. --Mari Malcolm

From Bookforum

The "stories" of the novel ... concern the terrible breakup of a marriage after infidelity, and the fallout it creates for those around the marriage. It is lusher and straighter and lighter than Play It as It Lays and far less contrived and furious than Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? and maybe owes more to Sandra Cisneros than either. —Choire Sicha

Review

“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)

“With her assured and deftly wrought novel-in-stories . . . Ringwald plays out the all-too-familiar tragedies of adult life[. Her] stories ring with authenticity, voices so true and honest that we imagine she’s been eavesdropping on our conversations. Once again she connects us.” (—Vanity Fair)

From the Back Cover

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.

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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