It Happens All the Time: A Novel

It Happens All the Time: A Novel

by Amy Hatvany

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501153907
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Publication date: 03/06/2018
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 236,308
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Amy Hatvany is the author of nine novels, including It Happens All the Time, Somewhere Out There, and A Casual Encounter. She lives in Seattle, Washington with her family.

Read an Excerpt

It Happens All the Time

Tyler


I don’t see the gun until it’s pointed right at me.

“Drive,” she says, shifting her upper body toward me. We are in the cab of my truck, me behind the wheel, Amber in the passenger seat. Her arm trembles, from uncertainty or the weight of the weapon, it’s impossible to tell.

I look at her, blinking fast. “Amber, wait—”

“Shut up.” Her voice is stone. Unyielding. She cocks the hammer with her thumb and I jerk to the left, toward the driver’s side window. My shoulders hunch up around my ears and then—I can’t help it—I say her name again.

“I said, shut up!” Amber repeats, this time with a shrill, unstable edge. She tilts her head toward the parking lot’s exit. “Go.” Her index finger rests against the side of the trigger. One twitch, one small movement, and it could all be over.

I straighten and try to steady my breath. Just do what she says. I put the key in the ignition, turn it, and the engine springs to life. The radio blasts and Amber and I both startle; she hurries to snap it off. A bead of sweat slides down my forehead, despite the bone-chilling bite in the air. It’s early November, and it strikes me that it has been almost a year since she came home for Christmas and found me waiting for her at her parents’ house. So much has happened since then. Everything has changed.

I pull out onto the street, telling myself that one of my coworkers inside the red-brick station house must have noticed the two of us together, that something in Amber’s stance or facial expression hinted at what she was about to do. Someone will follow us or, at the very least, call the police. But even as I think these things, I know they won’t happen. My partner, Mason, had already left for home, for his wife and daughter. The paramedic team who took over for us was behind the closed doors of the garage, double-checking inventory in the rig. The firefighters were upstairs in the bunk room, sleeping if they needed it, or in the gym, shooting the shit and lifting weights to pass the time. As first responders, we are accustomed to crises, our bodies conditioned to react. We race toward disaster instead of from it, but we don’t stand by the window, scanning our surroundings, expecting to see it as it strikes.

When I first stepped outside and saw Amber waiting for me in the dimly lit parking lot, I was foolish enough to feel a spark of hope. “We need to talk,” she said, and I nodded, noting that she was thinner than I’d seen her in years. Her face was gaunt, sharp cheekbones and enormous hazel eyes in darkened sockets. Her thin brown hair fell in messy waves to her jawline, and she wore a puffy black ski jacket that only emphasized her stick-slim legs. She couldn’t have weighed much more than a hundred pounds. Nine years ago, when she was fifteen, in the hospital at her worst, she had weighed eighty-two.

“Get on the freeway,” Amber says now, releasing the hammer and dropping the gun to her lap, where she cradles it, staring straight ahead. Her face is shrouded in shadow, making it impossible for me to guess what she is thinking. “Go south.”

“You don’t need to do this,” I say, hoping I might be able to reason with her. “You said we need to talk, so please . . . let’s talk.”

“Just drive where I tell you to drive.” She lifts the gun and points it at me again, this time holding it with two hands, one cupped under the other, her finger still lying next to the trigger.

“Okay, okay! Sorry.” A familiar, tightly wound panic coils in my chest; I worry what might happen if it springs loose. “You don’t need the gun.”

Her eyes narrow into slits. “Don’t tell me what I need.” She jabs the nose of the weapon into my ribs and cocks the hammer once more.

I gasp, and then pump the brakes, slowing to a stop at a red light. My eyes flit to our surroundings, searching for someone on the street, anyone I can signal for help, but it’s three in the morning in our sleepy college town. There are no other cars around.

The tips of my nerves burn beneath my skin, and then I hear my dad’s deep voice in my head: “Don’t just sit there, Son. Do something.”

The light turns green, and Amber pushes the gun deeper into my side, urging me forward. I ease my foot down on the gas pedal, contemplating the ways my father might take control of a situation like this. I see him shooting out his right arm and grabbing Amber by the back of the neck, slamming her head against the dashboard. I imagine his thick fingers curling into a fist and punching her in the face.

But I don’t want to hurt Amber, not more than I already have. What I want is for everything to go back the way it was when we first met—before my parents’ divorce and her illness, before we grew apart and then came back together, closer than ever, last June, after she came home from school with an engagement ring on her finger. I want to rewind the clock, take back the night when the world shattered. I want to erase everything that went wrong.

“I hate you,” she says. Her voice sounds diseased, infected with disgust. “I hate you so fucking much.”

I wince, suspecting that I deserve every bit of that venom, the pain of the gun jammed against my ribs. I might even deserve the bullets inside it. I turn onto the freeway onramp, accelerate, and then, unsure what Amber’s plan might be, I look at her. “I know,” I say. “I hate me, too.”

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for It Happens All the Time includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

Introduction

Amber Bryant and Tyler Hicks have been best friends since they were teenagers—trusting and depending on each other through some of the darkest periods of their young lives. And while Amber has always felt that their relationship

is strictly platonic, Tyler has long harbored the secret desire that she might one day change her mind.

Returning home for the summer after her college graduation, Amber and Tyler begin spending more time together than

they have in years. Despite the fact that Amber is engaged to her college sweetheart, both friends sense a growing

flirtation between them. And one night, fueled by alcohol and growing concerns about whether she’s getting married too young, Amber kisses Tyler.

What happens next will change them both forever.

Topics & Questions for Discussion

1. It Happens All the Time takes an active look at two experiences of rape culture. Were you able to relate to either of these perspectives, and, if so, in what ways?

2. As a group, discuss whether you were able to identify any warning signs that Tyler might violate Amber’s trust earlier in either narrative. Do you think there are any ways to identify people who are at risk of committing sexual assault?

3. At the time of her rape, Amber is questioning whether she might have feelings for Tyler and getting cold feet about her engagement to Daniel. If she hadn’t been raped, what do you think would have happened? Would she have gotten married? Would she and Tyler have started dating? Discuss a few different directions you think Amber’s life could have gone.

4. Tyler’s father and his coworker Mason both play significant roles in Tyler’s life, at times serving as voices of influence in his mind. Are there people in your life who sway you in similar ways?

5. “I think under the right set of circumstances . . . pretty much anyone is capable of horrific behavior,” Mason asserts when Tyler asks him if he thinks Tyler is “capable of something like [rape].” (pg. 155) Do you agree with this statement? Why, or why not? What circumstances do you think lead a person to commit sexual assault, and which of these do you see present in Tyler’s story?

6. The novel depicts a number of healthy and unhealthy ways people respond to and recover from trauma, including therapy, drug abuse, sex, support groups, social withdrawal, exercise, legal action, and violence. Compare and contrast some of these methods of dealing with trauma: Are some more self-destructive than others? Which appear to be the most useful for Amber’s recovery process? Is the “effectiveness” of a response to trauma even more important than that behavior being healthy?

7. Tom and Helen are put in a difficult position when they must support their daughter as she relapses into an eating disorder and other self-destructive behavior in the wake of her trauma. In what ways did you think they did a good job as parents confronted with these challenges? What might you do differently in their position?

8. Throughout the novel, both Tyler and Amber struggle with feelings of powerlessness and seek to reclaim control of their bodies. Why do you think control is so important to these characters, even prior to the rape?

9. Amber’s therapist Vanessa suggests that Amber is having sex with strangers to relive her rape within a context in which she can take charge. (pg. 292) Did this inclination surprise you? Do you think it was helpful for her to reclaim her experience in this way, or did it ultimately only cause her further harm?

10. Tyler repeatedly excuses his actions by saying he didn’t mean to hurt Amber, to which she replies, “What you meant to do doesn’t matter. What matters is what you did.” (pg. 253) Are intentions important in hurtful situations? Why or why not? Did Tyler’s intentions change how you viewed him?

11. Amber ultimately uses violence, effectively showing Tyler how it felt to suffer at the hands of someone you trusted to never hurt you. Afterward, Tyler does not blame Amber or think her response was disproportionate. Do you agree that her violent action was justified?

Enhance Your Book Club

1. In May 2016, the website xoJane published an essay by a rape survivor who physically attacked her rapist: www.xojane.com/issues/i-got-revenge-on-my-rapist. In it, she says, “Five years after avenging myself, I stand by my decision to attack my rapist. Beyond giving victims their power back, actions like mine serve as warnings to former, current, and future rapists. People like [my rapist] believe they can get away with assault because our legal system has imposed a culture of silence around sexual violence.” As a group, consider this excerpt or read the full essay. Discuss whether you feel differently in real life about a victim taking an action the way Amber did in the novel. Are there other ways to avoid the concerns about the legal process described by Amber and her therapist and still get justice? (pages 217–219)

2. As a creative writing exercise, imagine Amber and Tyler meeting again after five years. Write the scene as you think it would play out, considering any or all of these questions: Where are they now in their lives? Did Amber ever rekindle her romance with Daniel? What impact did Tyler’s requisite treatment have on him? Have they spoken at all in the past five years? Do they feel safe in each other’s presence? Share your stories with your book club and discuss.

3. Consider volunteering or donating to a local or national sexual assault hotline as a group. To search for organizations in your area, learn more about laws and current advocacy efforts in your state, or read survivors’ stories, check out www.rainn.org.

4. Visit Amy Hatvany’s website at http://www.amyhatvany.com to learn more about her and her books, and consider reading another of her compelling, emotionally driven novels as a group.

Customer Reviews

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It Happens All the Time: A Novel 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings Unfortunately for me, the big thing in this book was spoiled for me, but even with the spoiler, I can say that I absolutely adored this book. Amber and Tyler are childhood friends and they have been each other's person through the ups and downs through middle school and high school, but when Amber comes home with a significant other, Tyler's world is shaken to its core and he doesn't know what to do without his best friend being just his. Before reading this book, I was already a HUGE Amy Hatvany fan and have read most of her backlist. The way she writes is indescribable, but just makes the reader want to dive in and not give up on these characters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very well written you can tell the author put a lot of personal experience and research in this book. I like that both sides are explored
teachlz More than 1 year ago
My Review of “It Happens All the Time” by Amy Hatvany Kudos to Amy Hatvany for writing such a controversial and heartwrenching novel. In “It Happens All the Time”, the topic of rate and assault is discussed. The genres of this novel are Contemporary Fiction and Women’s Fiction. The author vividly describes her two characters as conflicted, complicated and troubled. Amber and Tyler have been friends for many years. Tyler comes from a home where his father bullied and abused him. As a result, Tyler experiences anxiety attacks. Amber has problems with her body image and becomes anorexic. Both friends are supportive and encouraging of one another. The tragedy of this story is when one night Amber and Tyler are drinking and become intoxicated. Amber is engaged to another man, and is confused, and Tyler has different feelings for Amber that are not reciprocated. There is dancing and kissing, and more liquor. Things progress too rapidly , and Amber tries to put a stop to what is going on. Unfortunately Tyler does not get the message to stop. The consequences of this night change Amber and Tyler’s lives. Amber is shattered by the fact that someone that she trusted and cared for betrayed her. Tyler vacillates in his feelings of what happened and makes excuses to himself. This was an emotional read for me, and I feel this issue is so very relevant in today’s society. Both young women and men should be better educated about appropriate behavior, and what the word “No” means. Also there are pressures and entitlements to these young people who sometimes just want what they want, and can’t take responsibility for their actions. Another issue is the abundance of alcohol and drugs served at parties and colleges. Parents should prepare their children to be responsible. I would highly recommend this book as a must read. Author: lindasbookobsession
SheTreadsSoftly More than 1 year ago
It Happens All the Time by Amy Hatvany is a highly recommended examination of a friendship changed by sexual expectations. Amber Bryant and Tyler Hicks have been best friends since they were teenagers. She was there for him when his macho father humiliates and degrades him. He was there for her when her eating disorder leads to a heart attack. Amber made it clear to Tyler during high school that she wasn't interested in a romantic relationship with him. Now Amber has returned home for the summer. She's just graduated from college and is engaged. She strictly watches her eating, but she's eating. Tyler is working as an EMT. He still has feelings for Amber and has hoped that someday she'd reciprocate them. Tyler and Amber rekindle their friendship. Amber's fiancé is miles away and she's working before moving to meet him in the Fall. While Amber still wants the friendship to remain platonic, she's confused about her engagement. Tyler still desires more than a friendship. The two begin to see each other a lot and the flirtation between the two increases. A drunken party on the fourth of July, blatant sexual flirting, and a kiss lead to a sexual encounter. Amber feels it was rape while Tyler sees it as his dreams fulfilled. The narrative alternates between the point of view of Amber and Tyler. Since the novel opens with Amber kidnapping Tyler at gun point, you know right away a rape is going to happen. When it does, well, the line is a little blurry since "No!" was never used, but "Wait" was. I can concede that it was rape because it was unwanted. However that doesn't make Amber's later crime okay. You'll have to read the book, but it didn't sit well with me that it was alright to lie about Amber's actions, but Tyler had to be held accountable for his actions. Hmmmm... They were both guilty of acts of violence. And the eating disorder thrown in for good measure also muddied the plot. This is a well-written novel that is imminently readable with a plot that moves along quickly. Amber and Tyler are well-developed characters, even though the plot does get in the way of them being actually likeable. Additionally Amber's eating disorder lessens the emotional impact of the assault, especially after we learn that Tyler is the one who saved her when she had the heart attack. He's wanted a relationship for years, she knew it, and yet she still led him on sexually. I'm not letting him off the hook either. When she said wait he should have stopped. Even though she was drunk and coming on to him, he could have told her to stop it because she was engaged. This could be a good choice for a book club because the discussion would undoubtedly be lively. Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Atria Books.
Holly More than 1 year ago
It Happens All The Time is the story of how just one moment can change everything for two people. Amber and Tyler have been friends since they were teenagers, depending on each other in their darkest times growing up. Tyler always thought that they would fall in love with each other but Amber had different plans for her life. Now with Amber engaged to another man, one drunken kiss will lead to a night that will change everything for Amber and Tyler in ways they would never expected. This book was amazing in the sense that you get both sides of the story for what Amber and Tyler is going through leading up to and what comes after. I have never read a book like this that makes you feel for both Amber and Tyler for what happens and you could see why they both do the things they do. I think the part that got to me was how the Author is writing this from personal experience that brings a whole new level to this story. This is truly a book that needs to be read in High Schools, Colleges or even Book Clubs for the serious issues that this story brings up. Thank You to Amy Hatvany for sharing your personal experience in a book that turned me into a fan of yours from this day on!! I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book from BookSparks : Wintervention 2017! I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley!
MCOABW More than 1 year ago
Without sharing too much of the content, I will give a trigger warning that it deeply explores the process of consent and rape culture. The author does provide a very solid and meaningful warning at the beginning of the book, but I felt it necessary to provide another. Wow. Talk about intense. This weighed on my heart, but I respect Amy Hatvany’s initiative for writing a book about such a sensitive topic, but also in such a unique way. It is powerful. I have a vested interest in this topic as my background is in crisis and trauma counseling and I work with college students who have had similar experiences. Believe it or not understanding consent is one of the most difficult things to convey to college students. While everyone knows the word, a true understanding without casting doubt, self-blame or understanding drug facilitated assault and what that means for consent is incredibly relevant – not only to college aged individuals, but for anyone who has had an experience invalidated by another or questioned. Obviously with fiction there are elements that are inaccurate or biased. This book not only paints a very real picture of ones experience and the complexity of opposing viewpoints, but it also acknowledges several facets of the societal norms and constraints that box in or compartmentalize individuals experiences. Gender roles and expectations play an integral role in the content of this book, but there are so many layers to what Hatvany is trying to convey. While I applaud Amy Hatvany for her understanding and portrayal of a very difficult topic, there were moments where I felt individuals in the characters lives violated that sense of consent and empowerment. So I’m extremely torn on my thoughts about the language used at times. Keeping in mind that anyone who has a support system in place would likely have individuals in their lives that want them to tell. For me, there were situations in the book that produced feelings of anger as I felt the language used at times was a bit less supportive and more coercive. I did remind myself that this is a work of fiction and that in real life, family and friends often feel helpless and want to support, without always knowing how. The author did a great job creating those dynamics while allowing the main characters the space to grow and their own stories to develop. I believe it is crucial for someone who has been through a trauma to reclaim power and autonomy. Their decisions should be their own and not influenced by the thoughts or views of others. You will experience that in this book, there is a sort of reclaiming and redemption aspect that make this a significant yet heartbreaking experience for the reader. This is a heavy read, I cried at several points, but I will say the depth of these experiences is well worth exploring. It Happens All the Time is a book that is truly necessary as it accurately captures thoughts, feelings and behaviors of individuals who have experienced trauma. It may be triggering for some, but cathartic for others. I would highly suggest knowing your limit before reading, but perhaps leaning into your discomfort to understand a view you may have never considered. It may also make you connect to thoughts, feelings or views you’ve experienced or shared. While I can’t say the author intended to have the reader sympathize with individuals in the