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When It Happens to You: A Novel in Stories
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When It Happens to You: A Novel in Stories

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  4,610 Ratings  ·  810 Reviews
Book description to come.
Published August 14th 2012 by HarperAudio (first published August 1st 2012)
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Panio Gianopoulos
Full disclosure: my wife wrote this book. That said, I think it's a tremendous feat of storytelling. I loved the interconnectedness of the narratives, the way that events are reintroduced later from a different vantage, and how these perspectival shifts reinforce themes of complexity and even opacity (both narratively and emotionally). This is a world where nothing is simple, and yet it's not a freewheeling all-is-permitted place: there are real and heavy consequences, and watching the character ...more
Aug 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 interjec
Dec 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I put off reading this book because I made the erroneous assumption that Molly Ringwald is the same girl as the actress in the 80's, still riding her wave of notoriety by trying her hand at writing a novel which inevitably will be bad. She's an actress, after all. Not a writer.

Here is my public apology. I wrongly pigeon holed the author, making the pious and hypocritical assumption that she was one dimensional. Assuming that, unlike me, she hadn't grown and tapped into her different gifts and d
Aug 14, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is not a bad book but it's not a good or great book either. The writing is competent. There are some nice sentences and moments throughout and with a great editor, this book could become so much more. There's not enough that makes this book special or inspired. It's a novel in stories about a couple struggling the way many couples do--infidelity, infertility, ennui. There are family tensions between a mother and daughter. Etc etc etc. There's nothing in this collection we haven't seen befor ...more
Aug 25, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I’ve always thought that in order to be a writer of fiction, you would have to be at least a somewhat competent actor. It would make it easier to sync dialogue and gestures, to envision what it looks like to cross a room or buy an apple. That knowing how to get into character would make it easier to create a character.

It might yet be true.

This is why I had no trouble believing that Molly Ringwald, the face of 1980s teendom, might be the next big thing in fiction writing. Her debut, “When It Ha
Mar 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Chris by: Authors On Tour-Tattered Cover
I heard Molly Ringwald read part of one of these stories on the podcast "Authors On Tour," sponsored by the Tattered Covered book shop in Denver. While my interest was piqued and I enjoyed listening to it, I admit my skepticism over an actress/singer turned writer when I picked this up. I eat my words. These eight connected short stories made me want to drop everything, and I pretty much did, devouring this over the weekend. About a quarter of the way through, I thought about the title, When it ...more
Oct 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow - never would have thought an 80's actress could produce such a wonderful book so completely open and filled with emotion!

I hesitated in buying this book because it described itself as a series of short stories, and I don't like short stories - I read too fast and have a hard time moving from story to story so quickly. However I didn't feel it was a collection of short stories so much as just a large cast of characters, whose lives all somewhat intertwine, almost a literary version of "Love
Michelle Cristiani
I didn't choose this book because I'm a particular fan of Molly Ringwald; I had read a good review, and she always seems smart in interviews. Now I KNOW she's smart. This isn't one of those books where a famous person decides to dabble in another art. Ringwald is a very good writer, and it's clear from her afterward that she sees writing as work, and not a dalliance.

The story evolves through shorts from varying points of view. Often the reader doesn't know how the story will fit together, until
Larry H
Sep 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The literary world is literally jam-packed with books "authored" by celebrities—actors, directors, musicians, socialites, even those famous for essentially doing nothing. Clearly, many of these celebrity so-called authors are able to sell their books to publishers because of their name only, because most of their books are poorly written. But for me, there have been some celebrity surprises over the years, including Steve Martin and Steve Earle.

After reading When It Happens to You, I can unequiv
Yvann S
Sep 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"It seemed to Greta that Theresa was one of those girls who spent all of her time being an imposition while obviously trying not to be an imposition. Almost everything Theresa said or did broadcast the message 'I won't take it for myself. You'll have to give it to me.'"

Molly Ringwald's debut novel is described as a novel in stories and is really a short story collection in which the characters recur from one story to another - it reminded me of Jennifer Egan's A Visit From The Goon Squad, which
Bridget Petrella
When it Happens to You is a smart, fresh, on-the-mark “novel in stories”. In eight interrelated tales, Ringwald offers a savvy look into personal relationships in today’s society. While the stories feature contemporary themes, they come across as both modern and timeless. The main characters, Greta, Phillip, and Charlotte, are your typical American family, experiencing the same trials and triumphs that happen to families across the globe everyday. Yet experiencing these through the lens of heart ...more
Kelly Hager
Aug 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a series of interconnected stories, mostly centering around Greta, her husband Phillip and their daughter Charlotte. Phillip cheats on Greta, which (not surprisingly) leads them to separate. Greta isn't ready to get divorced, necessarily, but she doesn't want to be with him right now, either.

I don't generally read short stories and I probably wouldn't have picked up this book if it weren't written by Molly Ringwald. I said that to say this: this book is AMAZING. You know how there are au
Julie James
Oct 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this one back in October--a book club pick. I was initially intrigued by the premise: a novel told in short stories (meaning, the stories/characters in the short stories are linked.) I had hesitations after reading the first story, about a thirty-something stay-at-home mom who finds out that her husband is having an affair with their daughter's (much younger, naturally) violin teacher. I felt like that set-up has been used as a device a lot in women's fiction, to start the heroine on a jo ...more
Aug 23, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The writing style didn't impress me. Some of the pages required a dictionary for unneeded words. It is the type of writing that makes you feel the writer is a braggart - trying to impress you with her knowledge at the cost of a true emotional connection.

She also rambles quite often - dragging you away from the story at hand to describe a tree or waiter. I rolled my eyes and pushed forward.

The characters are truly loveable and relatable. This she finds success in. I especially loved the story of
Mar 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Andrea Mullarkey
Mar 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: stories
I admit it, I picked this up because I have been a Molly Ringwald fangirl since the 80s. So it was no small surprise that I really enjoyed When It Happens To You. Ringwald calls it a novel in stories, and I can see how that is true. The narrative does not follow one character straight through time, and truthfully each chapter could be read independently. But other than that, it has all the features of a novel. The characters are all related to one another and their individual stories come togeth ...more
Nov 10, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love the brat pack movies. My curiousity was piqued when I heard about Molly Ringwald's debut novel. So many celebrities write crappy books. Fortunately, Ringwald is not one of them. "When It Happens to You" is a collection of short stories, where characters overlap and are remotely connected, coming full circle at the end. Think 7 degrees of Kevin Bacon, another 80s icon. "My Olivia" tells the story about a mother's love for her child, and her concern about their gender identity. "The Harvest ...more
Terri Jacobson
This book is described as a novel in short story form. It's a collection of 8 stories with some interlocking characters. I'm a short story aficionado, so this book really appealed to me. There are underlying themes among the tales, including love and marriage; betrayal; maintaining relationships in the modern family; how aging affects women and their partners. The writing is beautifully compelling with rich characters and remarkable insight. The title story was my favorite. It is a gripping, sea ...more
Margie Van Evera
I thought these chapters/stories were well-written and was nice to read about every day normal life.
Oh god, what a slog this audiobook was. Usually have pretty low standards for light audiobooks that occupy my mind while I commute and do chores. I thought Ringwald's familiar voice would make this one enjoyable. Nope!

I just couldn't bring myself to care about these obnoxious rich white people and their fucked up relationships. Usually I love interwoven short stories, but that's because usually I care about the characters and am excited to see them from different angles. That was not the case he
Dec 27, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’m not a big fan of the short story, generally speaking. I’m inclined to blame it on my high-school literature classes, where they made up the bulk of what we studied, but it’s probably more because I prefer to spend more time with the characters and situations that I meet in fiction, and by definition, short stories don’t take much time. Even though it can be challenging to make time for reading anything some days, when I have that time, I usually prefer to invest it in a longer-lasting readin ...more
Dec 02, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
As a child of the 1980s, it’s difficult not to root for Molly Ringwald – after all, every movie released between 1986 and 1989 taught us to do just that. And it’s proof that we’re raising our son correctly that, when he saw me reading this, he knew her as “Molly” from the first season of The Facts of Life. Still, no matter how much goodwill you may have for Molly Ringwald, this “novel in stories,” while it has some decent moments and one good story (the title story), is not particularly good.

Aaron Maurer
Feb 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
I hate to use this term, but I felt like the book was a chick lit. When I started reading this book I felt like it was for women. I was not really that into the book. It just is not my cup of tea. However, and I do mean however, by the end of the book I thought it was a good read.

This book is a collection of short stories. What really amazes me and what I find to be brilliant is how Molly Ringwald connected all the stories with various characters. That part of the writing was very impressive. I
I was always a really big fan of Molly Ringwald when I was growing up. Not so much the silly 80s movies, but the stuff like "For Keeps," "Fresh Horses," and "Betsy's Wedding." She just always seemed smarter than the average vapid Hollywood actress, like somebody who spent some time pondering about things in life. So, no real surprise that she has reinvented herself as an actress. I applaud her too, she is pretty good at it. (I also hear from one of my favorite podcasters Adam Carolla that her an ...more
Chris Blocker
Apr 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A couple stories into When it Happens to You, it is easy to dismiss Molly Ringwald as nothing more than a celebrity author. Yes, she's a good writer—surprisingly good in fact—but she's not doing anything original. Those first couple stories reminded me all too much of the suppressed-woman-coming-of-age-midlife story that has blanketed literary magazines and been the focus of so many creative writing workshops since the 70s. It's been done, Ms. Ringwald, and while you're good at it, sorry, but yo ...more
Michelle Smith
I really wish that Goodreads had a 'half-star' option, because I rate this book 2.5 stars.

First things first: I started this book with pretty low expectations. I am a child of the 80's, through and through, and I remember Molly Ringwald's hair and eyes and lips and quirky style up on the big screen. The thought that she could be a writer was a dubious one to contemplate, but I am also more than happy to give people a chance to reveal new layers of themselves, showcase other talents, and experime
Margo Brooks
Mar 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I did not have high hopes for this book--a first novel written by an actress, but now that I have read it, I can't wait to read Molly Ringwald's next work of fiction.

The novel is written in a series of eight connected stories that take place over the course of a year. They follow, sometimes directly and other times tangentially, the break up of the marriage of Greta and Philip. The effect of an affair on this couple and their young daughter Charlotte is explored in many different ways and the th
Jennifer Pack
Hmmmm, this is somewhere between 3 and 4 stars. Ringwald gets certain aspects of life and motherhood spot on. That makes this book familiar, drawing nods of understanding and smiles of knowing. And that is so wonderful in a book! At times, though, I felt like she wrote too many stories, too quickly, all at once. Too many characters with major life-issues are merely mentioned : a rehabilitating drug addict, the parent whose child died too young, a gender curious child, an alcoholic, and a separat ...more
Nov 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really, really, REALLY loved this book - a surprising amount. I'd rank 4.5 stars if I could - but it leaned more toward 5 than 4.

Have always been a Molly Ringwald fan (who my generation isn't?) - but really didn't expect her to be such a beautiful writer, as well as actress. One of the reviews said, "clearly while we were watching her, she was watching us" - and I agree. She wrote an amazing collection of short stories - much in the fashion of Olive Kitteridge, the characters interweave - but
Feb 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
If you'd told me that the best book I would read so far this year would be written by Molly Ringwald, I'd have told you you were crazy. As it happens, though, that's exactly what happened.

I am a big fan of long form fiction in short stories (it's how I wrote my first two novels). This one does a great job of putting the pieces of the story together and intertwining the different character's lives. But beyond that, it was just superbly written. The prose was raw and emotional yet lyrical and ele
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Molly Kathleen Ringwald is an American actress, singer, dancer and author. Having appeared in the John Hughes films Sixteen Candles (1984), The Breakfast Club (1985), and Pretty in Pink (1986), Ringwald is part of the "Brat Pack" and has been called the greatest teen star of all time. She has also played Anne Juergens in the ABC Family show The Secret Life of the American Teenager.
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“The moment you make someone promise anything is the same moment you ask them to lie to you.” 33 likes
“When it happens to you, you will be surprised. That thing they say about how you knew all the time but just weren't facing it? That might be the case, but nevertheless, there you will be. You will feel like you have been kicked in the stomach, that your insides have just separated to make room for something big.” 6 likes
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