Jill's Reviews > When it Happens to You

When it Happens to You by Molly Ringwald
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Aug 22, 12


As far as novel-in-stories/short story cycles go, this one is probably the one most limited in its scope--with characters revolving around a marriage-in-distress. It's also one with privileged characters (Ivy League educated, affluent, even an actor) even though the short story cycle genre has usually been populated with outsiders, minorities, the marginalized. Ringwald's characters speak French, drink Sangiovese, and have GPS systems.

Ringwald has some provocative insights and likes to interject interrogative asides (which I appreciate when they're done well--they are here). Her prose is clean -- though too often, she ends paragraphs with similes (most of them inventive). And by placing them in the same slot, it became like the skip of a record you play over and over--you know it's coming.

I think in short story cycle arcs, the first and last stories should be the strongest, and the first one is strong--pulls you into this world--but the arc is more of a deflation rather than a propelled movement. In later stories, I felt that Ringwald was relating events (as if recapping them from those she has heard from friends' over the years) rather than shaping a story. She can end a story well--often suspending an ending on a subtle and apt metaphor.

"Harvest Moon," "My Olivia," (my favorite) and "When It Happens To You" are the strongest. In her acknowledgments, Ringwald attributes Didion as inspiration--it comes across in her writing.

I will say that Ringwald wrote in a way that made me forget the characters she played (Andie, Samantha, and Claire) and start believing in the characters she wrote. Overall, a promising fictional debut. I hope she writes more.
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Christie I just finished the novel myself, and I agree with you. "harvest Moon" was excellent. But for some reason "The Little One' touched me the most.


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