When It Happens to You by Molly Ringwald is a collection of interconnected short stories, beginning with one about a mother who is struggling with holding her family together. The stories that follow, overlap, with characters coming and going, sharing different perspectives of experiences—an encounter at a coffee shop, children who befriend others. Together they tell a story of how lives touch one another with a focus on the initial story’s family members, pivoting on the titular short story told in the first person voice of the mother in the first.
Now, most everyone will recognize the name of the author and wonder if a member of the Brat Pack can write a series of stories that tell an interesting and engaging story. The truth is, it is interesting enough, mostly because she does shift to other characters, an effective device. Is it brilliant? No. Is this idea of interconnected short stories unique? Absolutely not. But this collection is good, a beach book, easy to read and not too heavy in theme or content. If I found the final story and the overall conclusion disappointing that’s because I prefer a little more psychological depth. Preference, however, doesn’t mean that all books should be emotionally, intellectually, or psychologically provocative and everyone deserves a bit of fluff. And this is well written fluff. Would I read another novel, whether a single story or a collection of short stories, written by Ringwald? Sure, if I wanted to read something I knew would not challenge me.