Monday, October 23, 2023

#BookReview of These Things Happen by Michael Eon

These Things Happen

By: Michael Eon
Publisher: Girl Friday Books
Publication Date: September 19, 2023
ISBN: 978-1959411161
Reviewed by: Rebecca Jane Johnson
Review Date: October 19, 2023
These Things Happen is a realistic novel that confronts alcoholism, spousal abuse, child abuse, tragedy, and suicide. The story begins with Daniel Zimmer finding his brother, Max, having just attempted suicide with a gunshot to his head. Daniel holds his brother while help arrives. He had been trying to convince Max to attend AA meetings with him, and regrets not knowing the depths of Max’s despair. Can Max recover from his trauma, addiction, and depression?
The second chapter travels back in time to 1975, when Daniel was 12 years old, and Max was 14. The two brothers, growing up in Brooklyn, received a rare gift of some money from their father to spend at Woolworths. To impress his terrifying father, the older brother, Max, chooses to buy a cap gun, when he would rather have bought Hit Parade Magazine. Daniel wanted to buy a wolfman figurine, as he relates to the wolfman from the Lon Chaney Jr. film; however, his father is enraged by his choice of what his father refers to as a “doll,” and so Daniel is also forced to purchase a cap gun.
The novel proceeds with each chapter shifting between 1970s Brooklyn and 1990s Brooklyn to reveal how significant moments in childhood impacted Daniel, the main character and narrator, later in his life. He is attending AA meetings with over 300 days of sobriety, only to relapse when tragedy hits. In the 1970s timeline, Daniel builds a friendship with Brie, a neighbor who is asthmatic. In the 1990s timeline, Daniel is on the verge of breaking up with his live-in girlfriend, Jill. His relationships with these women reveal dimensions of Daniel that are full of both tenderness and resentment.
As a twelve-year-old, Daniel loves playing the trumpet, and he carries the mouthpiece around as if it is a good luck charm. As a grown adult, Daniel works in real estate in Brooklyn, never realizing his dream to travel to places like Chicago and New Orleans to play trumpet.
This novel is captivating, and the poignant details give a sense of the eras. The relatable characters and their struggles will appeal to anyone familiar with the pillars of Alcoholics Anonymous. One shortcoming of this novel is that the narrative timeline gives a random hither-and-thither swinging quality. But that is a minor flaw for an otherwise engrossing read. And while this book may not be lighthearted reading, it can evoke the desire to support and care for each other, to work to find hope. These Things Happen inspires strength to cope with the effects of addiction and abuse - sobriety is a worthy pursuit.
Quill says: These Things Happen is a stunning, cinematic novel that provides the reader with a satisfying emotional catharsis.
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