Okay, full disclosure here: I never would have picked up this book if the author himself hadn’t bought it for me. But when you work at a bookstore, strange things sometimes happen to you, and on this particular day, the strange thing that happened to me was that Richard Kramer, author of These Things Happen (and also creator of My So-called Life, oddly enough), came into the store and decided that the best way to make sure that we sold lots of copies of his book was to buy one for the bookseller behind the Information Desk.
Luckily for him, I was just about to go on break and wasn’t reading anything at the time, so despite being a bit weirded out by the whole thing, I took my new acquisition along with me and ten pages in, I was hooked. I guess Richard Kramer knew what he was doing.
These Things Happen is the exact prototype of an ensemble novel as I think of the concept. As that title would have you believe, things do happen in this book (as things are wont to do), but, really, it’s just about a tenth grader named Wesley, his best friend Theo, his father Kenny, his mother Lola, Kenny’s partner George, and Lola’s husband Ben. And it’s their distinct perspectives that drive the story, a swirling harmony of voices that combine to form something sweet and sad and funny and wonderfully, remarkably genuine.