Book review by Five
These Things Happen by Richard Kramer
Wesley. George. Kenny. Theo. These are the four main characters whose intertwined lives spark, crackle, and sizzle—in short, leap off the page and thoroughly entertain—in Emmy winning writer/director/producer Richard Kramer’s first novel, These Things Happen. Wesley, an astute tenth grader, the only straight one of the bunch, is sent by his mother and stepfather to live with his gay father, Kenny, and his partner, George. Theo is Wesley’s best friend, and has just been elected class president and, surprisingly, in his acceptance speech admits to being gay.
What follows is Wesley’s info-gathering mission to find out for Theo whether or not being gay was a choice for both his father and his partner. An unexpected gay-bashing incident occurs in which Wesley is also beaten up while defending Theo, and turns everything upside down for all of those involved, causing each one of them to re-examine their own lives and relationships to one another.
With a proper mix of humor and seriousness, and plenty of literary panache to boot, the author has written an amazing and timely story which reads like A Catcher In The Rye for this current generation (which I often refer to as Generation Whatever). What’s so beautiful and eloquently portrayed in this book is how it truly gets to the heart of the matter by illustrating how we as human beings, when faced with an unexpected circumstance, or when shaken out of our personal safety zones without a net in sight, can grow by learning deep insights from one another, regardless of age or creed or sexual orientation.
Oh, oh, oh… One last thing: Personally, I’m often intrigued by names of things including, but not limited to, books (A Clockwork Orange, for example), films (once again, A Clockwork Orange is difficult to top), rock bands (C’mon, how cool is Queens of the Stone Age? Or Tool?), rappers (comedienne Wendy Liebman tweeted her self-given rap name would be L’il Toe… HA!), their albums (in the case of Led Zeppelin’s fourth LP, no name whatsoever!), religious organizations (The Quakers is definitely a golden oldie), political parties (the Pirate Party, big in certain parts of Europe, is my current favorite), even people (Rip Torn, a perfect example of intrigue), and I honestly think There would have been the perfect alternate title for this gem of a book entitled These Things Happen. Why? Well, you’ll just have to read it to find out for yourself whether or not you agree. And either way, it’s perfectly okay.