Although a somewhat snarky New York Times review by Dan Kois described it as “sort of bad,” I disagree. I enjoyed it. Is it a perfect book? No, but as a series of interconnected tales about betrayal, it’s absorbing. Here’s what I liked: The stories move us around and forward in interesting ways. The second-person title story packs a poignant punchline. Ringwald captures the perspectives of the major characters believably and with great compassion. Like most of us, the characters are flawed, but she finds ways to make us care about them. She also raises good questions about forgiveness, a topic we should probably all spend more time thinking about.
It may not be as finely crafted as Sherwood Anderson’s WINESBURG, OHIO or Elizabeth Strout’s OLIVE KITTERIDGE, but WHEN IT HAPPENS TO YOU will draw you in.