“These Things Happen” by Richard Kramer— These Things Indeed Do Happen

Kramer, Richard. “These Things Happen”, Unbridled Books, 2012.

These Things Indeed Do Happen

Amos Lassen

Wesley is in the tenth grade and has two sets of parents—his mother and her second husband and his father, a very important gay lawyer/activist and his partner, a restaurateur.  Like his father’s partner, Wesley is “fabulous” and Theo, his best friend is also “fabulous” (I never liked that word but it says so much). Theo decides, that after winning a major election at school, to come out publicly and Wesley is the only one surprised by this. Now Wesley lives with his father and the partner because he wants to get to know his “old man”. And then something happens at school and all of the parents come together in support and in love. Each character in the novel is then made to think about their own lives and how their priorities and decisions change the course of not only their lives but the lives of others as well.

Therefore it is easy to see that this is a novel propelled by its characters especially in the situations of parents and children. The book is set in Manhattan and the characters are members of the liberal upper class. The book is both a coming-of-age novel and a story about the modern family. Wesley, at age 15,shows maturity when he moves out of his mother’s house to live with his gay father so that the two can get to know each other better. But alongside that maturity is also youth and when we take the two together we get wisdom, love, sensitivity and humor. Richard Kramer also looks at the adults and how they feel about themselves, each other and the world. It takes an adolescent to bring it all together and we get a good sense of emotional nudity and an introspective study of the characters. Teen angst shifts to teen love and back again and the parents watch with eyes wide open. In fact, I fell in love with the character of Wesley and he has become one of my literary heroes now.

We see a part of New York that we do not often get to see and within the city we are witness to a love story of a different kind and to the complexity of moving from boys to men with all of the insecurities and complexities. And it is not only adolescents here but we read of husbands and lovers and the family. Kramer has the ability to enter both our hearts and minds and you will find yourself thinking and weeping but with a smile on your face as you do. I love this book and I think after this, his first novel, Richard Kramer will be a voice we will hear a great deal from.

 

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