Easily my favorite character in These Things Happen was flamboyant and hilarious George. Rather than falling prey to the tendency to stereotype gay men, Kramer works to emphasize George's individuality through his relationship with Wesley. For me, it was this relationship that was really the heart of the book. Kramer asks how we work to define relationships in our lives that aren't already defined for us---what is the role of the not-quite-stepfather partner in a young man's life?---while exploring how relationships that are already defined (father, mother) can fail us. George, who loves fine food and good theater, exposes Wesley to a whole world he hadn't seen before, and Wesley in turns offers George an unexpected chance to mentor someone younger.
The major turning point of this novel occurs after Wesley finds himself in the middle of a sudden act of violence. I can't say much more without going into spoilers, but this act of violence forces every character to reexamine themselves and their attitudes and assumptions. This situation forced me, as a reader, to challenge my own assumptions, and these thoughts stuck with me long after the book was over---which I think is the mark of a truly great book!
Because this book is told from various first-person perspective viewpoints, readers are given the chance to understand each character's thought process and motivations in a personal and powerful way. Every character has a unique voice, but all are surprisingly poetic. I found myself rooting for all the characters in different ways, and for the family as a whole throughout.
Recommended to: fans of Modern Family, Manhattan lovers, anyone who wants to understand mixed/LGBTQ families better, people looking for a heartfelt laugh on a winter's night
Release Date: November 7th 2012 Pages: 272 Format: Hardcover
Source: TLC Book Tours Publisher: Unbridled Books Buy It: Book Depository
This is a review by Meghan. You can find her here on Goodreads or on Twitter @meghanc303