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These Things Happen (2012)

by Richard Kramer

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9113240,071 (3.5)None
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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Just read in galley form and loved it. Great characters and the writing is exceptional. ( )
  ClaireMulhern | Nov 17, 2021 |
Although Kramer starts his story very well with two extremely likable characters & a compelling premise, after that things take a downward turn - at least as far as pace and story movement. The greater part of the next sections is conversations that are mostly hemming and hawing as Kramer throws up one roadblock after another to keep the story from moving forward - or in any direction at all. The 2 questions that Theo asks Wesley to ask his dad and his boyfriend do not get answered until the actual, literal end of the book. And there's whole lot of "What?" "Well -" and all other kinds of hesitant speaking before then. Wesley actually has the catchphrase of "in the interest of clarity," but the dialog is strangely lacking in this quality. Which is all really too bad, as this is an important topic and could really have been very, very good.
I was incredibly happy when it all ended, such as it was. ( )
  omphalos02 | Mar 6, 2019 |
It's been a long while since I've read a book that made me both laugh and cry on the same page. Richard Kramer's These Things Happen is a book that contains hilarity and introspection, and does it in a way that blurs the line between the two. I fell in love from page one, and you wouldn't have been able to pry this book out of my hands if you tried. I read straight through. That, in itself, is a testament to how amazing this book really is.

It's important to me that I praise the characters first and foremost. Wesley especially stole my heart. Although I'm sure most readers will profess that there is no adolescent out there that talks the way Wesley and his friend Theo do, I really don't care either way. The point remains that Wesley brings a voice to the mix that is sweet and genuine. Add in other vivid and candid characters, and you have a story that just begs to be read. I'd say more, but I really feel like this is something a reader needs to experience for themselves.

I think that Kramer approaches being gay in a way that is unique, and well done. He explores the relationships between his characters in a manner that allows the reader to see the rawest parts of them. Wesley and his very patchwork family each have to learn how to accept and understand one another. At the same time, they must learn who they themselves truly are, and learn to love even the roughest parts. The complexities of familial relationships are taken to a whole new level here, and it's a beautiful thing. I especially loved the ending (there were tears in my eyes, I'll admit it). Yet again though, you'll have to read this on your own to truly understand what I mean.

I know I'm rambling, but I'll end with a truth. These Things Happen is a unique and gorgeously written book. It's a rich tapestry, with a deep look at who we are when we think no one else is looking. I loved this book. Honestly, I'd love to put it on the shelf of every reader out there. If you appreciate a good story, one that deals with important topics in a stunning manner, then this is a read to add to your list.
( )
  roses7184 | Feb 5, 2019 |
Couldn't get through the first quarter of the book

A domestic story told in numerous original and endearing voices. The story opens with Wesley, a tenth grader, and involves his two sets of parents (the mom and her second husband, a very thoughtful doctor; and the father who has become a major gay lawyer/activist and his fabulous "significant other" who owns a restaurant).

Wesley is a fabulous kid, whose equally fabulous best friend Theo has just won a big school election and simultaneously surprises everyone in his life by announcing that he is gay. No one is more surprised than Wesley, who actually lives temporarily with his gay father and partner, so that he can get to know his rather elusive dad. When a dramatic and unexpected trauma befalls the boys in school, all the parents converge noisily in love and well-meaning support. But through it all, each character ultimately is made to face certain challenges and assumptions within his/her own life, and the playing out of their respective life priorities and decisions is what makes this novel so endearing and so special. ( )
  cjordan916 | Jan 4, 2016 |
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 |
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added by gsc55 | editMM Good Book Reviews, Tams (Apr 14, 2014)
added by gsc55 | editOut in Print (Aug 8, 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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