Things Happen by Christopher Acker Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

The desperate search for answers we all desire takes center stage in four incredible short stories from author Christopher Acker in the collection, “Things Happen”. 

The Synopsis

In these four stories, things happen.

A mother loses her son to a magic trick gone horribly wrong. Now a Google Maps car is trying to erase the last tangible memory she has of him.

Michelle lands her first big role in Hollywood as a prostitute in a Sam Cooke biopic. But her chance at stardom is jeopardized when riots break out after an innocent black man is murdered by the LAPD.

Everyone in St. Louis knows about the Salazar House of Horrors where a teenage girl was tortured and imprisoned. The prosecution asks Brandon—a model railroad enthusiast—to make a miniature replica of the infamous dungeon. The goal is to persuade the jury to put the monster behind bars forever. But constructing such degradation at 1/12th scale with his wife and two daughters lingering over his shoulder pushes Brandon and his family beyond their limit.

Disgraced journalist Alexander Reynolds is knee-deep in depression. Just about the only thing he can muster these days is slithering to his couch to watch The Maury Povich Show. In a sudden stroke of genius, a path out of his humiliation falls into his lap: he will fake his way to being a guest on Maury. There’s only one problem. He’ll need to convince his wife—the Oscar-winning filmmaker—to play a co-starring role.

The characters here are bruised, battered, and just plain exhausted. They’re like us. And like us, not everything works out for them. It’s this humanity that’s at the heart of this unforgettable collection.

THINGS HAPPEN offers a poignant yet highly entertaining portrayal of people desperately looking for answers in a time when truth and facts are more elusive than ever. The themes of infidelity, unresolved grief, identity, redemption, and racial injustice are woven throughout, lending these short stories a degree of resonance every reader can connect with. And to keep things interesting, a celebrity or two might even make an appearance.

Above all else, THINGS HAPPEN reflects what’s going on in this country right now:

A whole lot of something. 


The Review

This was such a compelling and engaging read. The author expertly crafted each story to represent an important representation of today’s issues facing our nation, from racial injustice to grief and loss and everything in-between. The characters in each story felt real and gripping as their stories developed over time, and their struggles touched upon so many issues that have always been there but seem to have intensified and become more prevalent in the last couple of years during this pandemic.

What stood out to me was the pacing the author took with each story. With each story being a short story or novella, the reader may have expected the narratives to feel rushed or details to have been missed, but honestly, after reading this collection I felt like the author perfectly elevated the tension and built up the atmosphere in a natural way without sacrificing the theme or characters in any way. 

The Verdict

A memorable, thought-provoking, and entertaining read, author Christopher Acker’s “Things Happen” is a remarkable and relatable must-read collection, and the perfect book to pick up this fall. Emotional storytelling, haunting atmosphere, and perfectly built-up tension allowed this collection to shine brightly, and I was truly enthralled with each story’s narrative. If you haven’t yet, either preorder or pick up your copy of this book today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Christopher Acker is a husband, father, and full-time clinical social worker living in Bridgewater, New Jersey. His fiction has appeared in Change Seven, Crêpe & Penn, New Reader Magazine, Junto Magazine, The Ocotillo Review, Thing Magazine, Subtle Fiction, The Raven’s Perch, Inwood Indiana, Fictive Dream, Spelk, Firefly Magazine, The Molotov Cocktail, and No Extra Words. His work has also been featured on Wandsworth Radio in the UK.

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