A couple of weeks ago I got FREE BOOKS IN THE MAIL courtesy of Book Sparks. If you didn’t already gather this, I like books, and I especially like coming home and finding them on my doorstep. So this was a double win.
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One of the books I scored was It Happens All The Time by Amy Hatvany. This novel, about two best friends who are bound by a deep, irreversible mistake, immediately piqued my interest because of its cover. (I know, I know. I’m shallow that way.) As soon as I began reading, I thought, Who is Amy Hatvany? Why haven’t I read her work before? Have I been living under a literary rock? There’s nothing quite like stumbling upon a new author whose work resonates with you and knowing your reading list has just grown.
I also read this book in just over a week. Usually, I can knock out a novel (length depending) in three or four days, but these days, two weeks is impressive for me because 1) life is busy, and 2) severe pregnancy brain.
It Happens All The Time covers dark but realistic topics like depression, self-harm, sexual assault, and betrayal of trust. And the title is especially telling. It’s astounding to stop and consider how rampant such issues are in everyday life.
What struck me most about this novel was the complexity of both protagonists. They each had deep imperfections, but each also had a spark inside of them, something that made them fight to keep from being defined by those imperfections. It’s easy to look at someone and see only what he’s doing wrong, or in some cases, only what he’s doing right. But people are much more complex than that. Good characters should be, too.
Protagonists Amber and Tyler were bolstered by solid supporting characters, some of whom were incredibly likable and admirable (Mason) and some of whom made me so angry I wanted to reach onto the page and kick them in the balls (Jason). Again, he was just an imperfect person with his own hangups and complexities, but from this perspective, the reader got more of his negative side than his positive one.
Bottom line: If you like books that force you to question both sides of an issue whether you want to or not, then read this one. Things aren’t always as black and white as we think, even horrendous, life-changing events. Because I’ve never experienced sexual assault personally, I wonder how my reaction to a story like this would differ from someone who has experienced this. Would one side always stand out over the other? Would a book like this bring too many ugly emotions to the surface? One of the most redeeming qualities of pain is its usefulness. Many of us are driven to use our pain to create things that help others — books, music, movies, art, buildings — and this book is an excellent example.
Read this book if you liked:
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Amy Hatvany did the terrifying, brave thing all writers dream of doing: She sold her car and quit her job in pursuit of writing books. Her first novel, The Kind of Love That Saves You, was published in 2001. Now she’s the author of eight books, including Outside the Lines, a 2012 Target Book Club pick.
Thank you to Book Sparks for providing me with an advance reader copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
What was the last book you read that made you think differently about a sensitive issue? Let me know in the comments below.