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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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579207,436 (3.5)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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These Things Happen is a big little book. A big little funny book. Two days, a handful of characters, a school, a restaurant, a cramped Manhattan apartment and a roof. We take a peek and Kramer opens up the world.
The skinny: Wesley, a sixteen-year old, is living with his gay dad and his long-term partner, George, as a way to get closer to his dad. Wesley’s mom is happily remarried. As the story begins, Wesley’s best friend, Theo, announces at school he is gay. The opening scenes between Wesley and Theo are worth the price of admission alone.
For me, this book is about parenting, in the broadest sense. We all pretty much agree on how to take care of babies and toddlers; it’s mostly feeding, cuddling and damage control. And during the grade school years, it’s much the same, plus a discussion about which parent really is better at math. But the older the kid gets, the trickier the job. How much truth are they ready for? (How truthful can I stand to be?) When do I peel off the bubble wrap and let them feel the jolts, suffer the bruises? And what do I do if my kid, at sixteen, is begging for answers, for guidance, and the only person strong enough to provide it isn’t his parent at all?
Kramer’s observations are nuanced and his attention is unwavering: a five-minute conversation can run twenty pages and when it’s done, you say, “No, it’s not time for lemon almond ricotta cake. Keep talking.” (Beware: This book will make you hungry.) With great patience and insight, Kramer shows us that the significance of words lies in the gaps between them, in the pauses during which we grapple with how to spell the truth. And no one understands this better than Wesley and George.
( )
  SonjaYoerg | Oct 1, 2014 |
Maybe this book appealed to many. I could see it from the reviews. It was because of the reviews that I forked out my money to buy this ebook. I regretted. I did not enjoy the way Kramer tell the story. In fact, I did not care about the coming-out. In fact, I did not care for any of the characters. There were way too much talking. ( )
1 vote starlight70 | Aug 1, 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 |
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 |
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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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