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These Things Happen by Richard Kramer
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These Things Happen (edition 2012)

by Richard Kramer

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507233,859 (3.59)None
Member:Florinda
Title:These Things Happen
Authors:Richard Kramer
Info:Unbridled Books (2012), Hardcover, 272 pages
Collections:Your library, Review copies
Rating:****
Tags:read, fiction, blog tour, 2012review, 3.75/5

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These Things Happen by Richard Kramer

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Wesley and Theo are best friends. Theo wins the tenth grade election and during his acceptance speech comes out as gay. Wesley's father, Kenny, lives with his partner, George. Theo's questions: Is being gay a choice? When did you know? Theo and Wesley become targets of violence. Profound things happen; Questions are asked and answered, these things happen. ( )
  sar96 | Jan 2, 2014 |
Wesley and Theo are best friends. Theo wins the tenth grade election and during his acceptance speech comes out as gay. Wesley's father, Kenny, lives with his partner, George. Theo's questions: Is being gay a choice? When did you know? Theo and Wesley become targets of violence. Profound things happen; Questions are asked and answered, these things happen. ( )
  sar96 | Jan 2, 2014 |
In my recent reads, I've noticed a trend: there seem to be a lot more books now that take place on an accelerated time line. The whole book covering less than a week of time, where I feel like I remember reading a lot more books that took a lot more time. These Things Happens spans only a couple of days, but really packs a wallop nonetheless. Kramer focuses on the power of family, and embraces the larger definition of what a family can be.

These Things Happen reminds me a bit of the show Modern Family, not so much in tone but in the idea of the 'modern family,' full of divorces, remarriages, straight men discovering their gay selves. Wesley's parents divorced ten years before, but, now, his mother sent him to live with his father, Kenny, feeling that in the transition to manhood Wesley should get to know his father. Kenny, a talented lawyer, works as an activist for the gay community and lives in a tiny apartment with his partner George, restaurateur and ex-actor.

The catalyst for the event's of These Things Happen starts with Wesley's best friend, Theo, who, upon winning the student election, concludes his victory speech by announcing to the student body that he is gay. Theo's pronouncement doesn't have an affect on their friendship, but does change Wesley's relationship with his family, in two different ways, one which I can discuss and one which I can't, because it would spoiler things for you.

Theo asks Wesley to speak with Kenny and George, to find out how they first knew they were gay and whether they think that being gay is a choice. Wesley promises to do so, good friend that he is. He never really talked with them about that before, and his sudden interest causes chaos in the family, curiosity about Wesley's interest and introspection on the part of George on how to answer those questions.

My favorite part of this novel, really, is the relationship between George and Wesley. Though George and Wesley are not related, not legally connected in any way, they have a closer relationship than Wesley does with his father, mother or step-father. George might be expected to have the least reason to help Wesley, but he's the one who can always make time and listen. I found this to be such a powerful theme, because I personally never did think that a blood relation indicated any sort of special bond with someone. Families are made, not so much by blood, but by time and caring. He doesn't need to be legally or biologically tied to George for them to have a powerful connection.

Kramer tells this story using multiple perspectives, though the last chapter is in third person, which seems a somewhat odd decision. Each voice has its own cadence and feels unique, the most important factor in using multiple perspectives effectively. Kramer did best, I think with Wesley, who seems the main character of the piece. More than anything, These Things Happen is a coming of age story, and might appeal to both adults and teenagers.

In These Things Happen, Kramer tackles the complicated field of modern familial relationships and weaves a touching story, set in the busy backdrop of New York City. His tale feels utterly authentic and true. ( )
  A_Reader_of_Fictions | Apr 1, 2013 |
A lot can happen in a day, although sometimes its full effects aren't apparent till a few days later. If it's a day when your best friend decides that his student-government victory speech is a fine opportunity to announce his homosexuality to the entire school, and then enlists you to ask the adults you're living with--your gay father and his long-term partner--a couple of questions about their own experiences with "gayness," it's one of those days when a lot happens. And when that day is followed by one in which you learn that some of your school associates may not be entirely okay with your best friend's announcement, even more happens, and you start to see the effects.

More of my review: http://www.3rsblog.com/2012/11/book-talk-these-things-happen-richard-kramer-tlc-... ( )
  Florinda | Dec 27, 2012 |
Summary

Theo and Wesley are 10th graders enrolled in a posh NYC college prep private school. Their lives are filled with activities and lessons designed to attract Ivy Leage colleges. These are smart kids...kids that keep you guessing what they'll say next and especially what kinds of questions they'll ask next.
Kenny is Wesley's father, a high profile lawyer who specializes in defending LGBT rights, who agrees that Wesley should live with him and his partner George for a couple of months "to get to know his father."
Kenny's partner George owns the restaurant that they live above and brings his colorful previous life as an actor into their partnership as a softening agent of sorts to Kenny's business sense and constant worklife.
Kenny's ex-wife and Wesley's mother Lola is an uptown editor and married to an opthamologist, Ben.

An act of violence brings them all to the table to figure out who they all are really and how best their lives should continue.
A touching, moving, serious and funny 24 hours in one family's life.

What I Liked

the sarcastic humor - don't try to drink your coffee while reading this book...these characters are funny and full of one liners that catch you off guard...you can almost hear the pretend accents they use as they zing the lines at one another - this aspect reminded me of how Robin Williams always switches voices within just one character..."Mrs. Doubtfire," specifically, kept popping in my head :p

constant references to literature, movies, plays and Broadway shows

George is a cook and owns an Italian restaurant called Ecco...so there is magnificent food, food and more food throughout this story as well...but not just thrown in any way...a variety of foods, brief snippets of their origins and history, and some preparation offered purposefully as important parts of these characters' lives.

the hard questions, the unacceptable "I don't knows."
the reminders that we don't really know ourselves as well as we think we do

Every single one of these characters is flawed in some way...but there are no apologies...they are who they are. We never know the bad guys...as a matter of fact, they are only given about 2 seconds worth of book time and are not even described (which is as it should be). The focus is on these characters and their families and how they make sense of the world, their places in it, things they don't understand, and how truly naive they are for thinking they are in some way in control of the events in their lives.

What I Didn't Like

Lola - I don't blame Lola for anything, so don't get me wrong here. Lola is very much the scapegoat character...her biggest "flaw" is one that even the most progressive minded people in the world have as well. I have this picture in my head of her swooping in and out of her family with the clicking heels and long trench coat...expecting everyone around her to jump.

Overall Recommendation

I want everybody to read this. I don't know nor do I care if everyone likes it. Just read it. If you walk away with even just 5 minutes worth of questions or a re-examination of who you are based on your pre-conceived notions and stereotypes, then it's been worth it. ( )
  epkwrsmith | Dec 19, 2012 |
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Wesley, a tenth grader, tries to navigate through life, despite having divorced parents, a father who has come out as gay and a popular friend who also comes out as gay right after winning a school election.

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