Sometimes It Happens
Author: Lauren Barnholdt
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: July 12, 2011
Format: Electronic galley via S&S Galley Grab (Thank you!)
On the last day of her junior year, Hannah's boyfriend Sebastian dumped her. Facing a summer of loneliness, Hannah turns to her best friend Ava for comfort. Ava does what BFFs do: she stays by Hannah's side...until it's time for Ava to head up to Maine for the summer. Also left behind is Ava's boyfriend, Noah, who's such a great guy he gets Hannah a job at the diner he waits tables at. Slowly, Hannah comes out of her funk thanks to Noah's good conversation and their fun times at the diner. But things get complicated when their friendship turns into attraction--and one night, into a passionate kiss. The novel opens on the first day of senior year; the day Hannah is going to see Ava, Sebastian, and Noah all in one place. Over the course of the day secrets and betrayals are revealed, and alliances are broken and reformed. In the end, everyone is paired up once again, but not the way you might think.--Goodreads
Sometimes It Happens is perhaps the most real seeming YA novel I've ever read.
Let me qualify that.
The main character, Hannah, is super normal. There's nothing inherently "special" about her that makes her different from any other teenage girl. She isn't gorgeous, she isn't mysterious, and she definitely doesn't have super powers. She's just a typical high school girl who is insecure, unsure of herself, boy crazy, a little bit dramatic, and a little bit silly. Even her story is pretty typical—at the beginning of the summer before her senior year, she catches her boyfriend cheating on her, her best friend, Ava, leaves for the summer, and Hannah subsequently falls in love with Ava's boyfriend.
Because, you know, sometimes it happens.
The book alternates between "present day"—the first day of senior year—and the summer, which allows the story unfolds in a sort of emotionally manic order. Hannah is either freaking out because she's trying to determine how to navigate her first day of senior year, which is the first day all of the characters have been in the same place at the same time since the beginning of the summer, or she's having an unexpectedly great, if not emotionally complicated, summer. The juxtaposition of her two experiences is actually a really fun storytelling device, as there is a nice cliffhanger type set-up between chapters. Luckily, all you have to do is turn the page to get to the next pieces of information, instead of waiting for the sequel. ;)
Although Hannah ends up in a bit of a pickle because of how she handles a variety of situations, she learns that damage isn't necessarily irreparable. Sure, choices have consequences, and sometimes those consequences change relationships, but sometimes those relationships need to be changed. What Hannah ends up learning is that, ultimately, sometimes the bad choices people make don't always have a good explanation. Sometimes the choices aren't even really choices. Sometimes, it just happens.
Overall, this book is a fun, quick read about a group of high school students and their motives. It's not life changing and it probably won't be your new favorite book, but if you're looking for something to breeze through to fill a day or two, Sometimes It Happens can do the trick and will even make you smile a time or two.