Life's What Happens

Life's What Happens

by Bob Kat


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How did one night change over a million lives forever?

It's 1969 at Kent State University and the brothers of Phi Psi Kappa fraternity think they have their lives all planned out. It's their senior year and their biggest worries are how to pass their classes with the least amount of studying and the greatest amount of partying and girls. All that changes on December 1st, 1969 when the government holds the first draft lottery for the Vietnam War.

With the blink of an eye, all their plans and dreams had to be changed or abandoned in consideration for what would keep them out of the army. Some men dropped out, some joined to avoid the draft and to pick their poison, some got job deferments and some fled to Canada or Australia. But everyone looked at life differently.

The shooting by the National Guard on May 4, 1970 closed the campus and the brothers went their separate ways. It isn't until more than forty years later when they are reunited because of a death of a dear friend that they find out what became of them and their girlfriends. And who survived.

LIFE'S WHAT HAPPENS is their story, as each is faced with questions much more complicated than any generation past. It is about the year they turned from boys to men, and where their choices took them.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781480296671
Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date: 11/03/2012
Pages: 420
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.86(d)

About the Author

Kathy Clark's 23 women's fiction (romance) novels have sold over 3 million copies in more than 10 languages and have been on the New York Times' bestsellers' list and won her numerous awards.
In September 2012 she broke away from the romance genre and launched a new suspense series, Denver After Dark. The first book, After Midnight has an original plot with a strong female heroine will capture you from the start. Book #2 Cries in the Night has been met with critical acclaim. Book #3 Graveyard Shift will be released in the Fall, 2014.

In 2012 Kathy teamed up with Bob Wernly to write a mainstream new adult novel, Life's What Happens. This is the story of nine college men who thought they had their lives all planned out when the randomness of the selective service lottery of 1969 changed their (and almost a million other young men's) lives forever. Suddenly, their decisions are life and death. This is the story of the choices they made and the consequences. Ultimately, life's what happens when you're making other plans.

Bob has been a business executive, an agent, a publicist and he has created all of the covers for Kathy Clark's books. This is his second book, and it is near and dear to his heart. He and Kathy are also creators of a young adult time travel mystery series called CUL8R and a new adult romantic suspense series called Scandals. The first book Baby Daddy was just released, written under the pen name Kathy Clark. Their books have won several industry awards and sold millions of copies.

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Life's What Happens 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
KenishaP More than 1 year ago
This story is historical fiction, and covers the events of the draft in the 1970s. That time was particularly turbulent for young men and women. Some people were drafted, some tried various ways to dodge the draft. The primary characters of the book are members of the Psi Psi Kappa fraternity at Kent State. The characters are depicted in pretty distinct ways, each with their own passions and hobbies. This made it easier to connect with them and care about what happens to them. Still, there can be a lot of people to keep track of, and I had some trouble keeping them straight in my head. I kept turning the page to find out how it would all end; who would be drafted, who would be successful, which friendships would last or be broken, etc. This book provides a very dramatic, touching and personal account of the draft that shows how millions of peoples lives were changed. The writing is pretty simple; not bad but nothing too special either. The editing was fine as well. It drags on in places, especially when I wanted to get to the point, but overall this was an enjoyable read.
Francine1440 More than 1 year ago
Life’s What Happens, written by Kathy Clark and Alex Parker, is an emotionally intense novel about a group of friends who attend Kent State University during the historical year of 1969-70. This is the time of the Vietnam lottery draft to fight in the war. Having happened before I was born I wasn’t familiar with anything but the basics of the draft and was mostly told about how cowardly the draft-dodgers were to take off for Canada. This book opened my eyes to how much being drafted into an unwanted war caused incredible upheaval, sometimes destroying young men and women’s lives as well as their loved ones and families. The book starts in a “Big Chill” (the movie) way with a death bringing former frat boys back together for the reading of the will. Almost immediately the reader is taken back to September, 1969 and introduced to the lives of the same frat boys as they try to make it through university, deal with their love lives and, finally, get dealt the blow of the lottery. I have to admit, I found the book a bit monotonous at times until the draft lotto happened. From then on I couldn’t put it down. The writing is so superb that I became totally invested in the futures of each character, in particular those called up to go to war. I couldn’t wait to find out if everyone went to fight, who made it home alive, who got deferred and who dodged the draft. The sights and sounds of that time are so well written that it’s like watching a movie. Perhaps the book should be made into one. This book took what was for me a little known time and made it real. Superbly written!
dcl55 More than 1 year ago
I was looking forward to reading Life’s What Happens and I was not disappointed. It was as if I was revisiting portions of 1969 and 1970 according to the evening news. As a young girl, I can remember watching the news film flicker across our black and white television showing the Kent State shootings. It was frightening to see the actions of the confused masses, the destruction of angry protesters, and the police with the National Guard struggling to bring order to the streets. This book by authors Alex Parker and Kathy Clark opens the scene as Don Williams is returning to the Phi Psi Kappa fraternity house about 2 miles from the Kent State campus. The fraternity benefactor and owner of the house, Brendan Harrigan, has recently died and left instructions in his will summoning Don to attend a meeting with his lawyer. There is a mystery twist here which is revealed at the close of the book. The title of each chapter being the name of a popular song of the times was a very clever feature. I would find myself humming the song as I read the chapter. The authors are so right about the music which swept across the nation for this generation. The book focuses on the Phi Psi Kappa fraternity graduating class of 1970. This story highlights the frustrations of study, dating, and the worry of the revived draft for Selective Service which would propel these young men to the fields of Vietnam, ready or not. During the course of this story you will be acquainted with fraternity brothers Don, Cliff, Larry, Stan, Frank, Ted, Barry, Mike, Alfonso, Kevin, Jeff, and Carlos, a pet monkey which will have you laughing! The story is a very nice mix of the daily lives in the troubled times for each of these characters. Read as these brothers are coming to terms with the possibility of their birth date number coming up in the lottery and their carefully planned futures becoming a huge unknown. How many of the brothers will make it back home for fraternity reunions and the girlfriends they had to leave. Will any of the brothers get mixed up with the protesting interlopers? Will bonds of friendships be broken? Will one or more of these fraternity brothers or their girlfriends be among the injured and killed during the week-end of out of control aggression? When you read Life’s What Happens, you will understand the Kent State protests and shooting event was more than just a one afternoon tragedy.
MarthaM More than 1 year ago
The strength so this writer lies in her ability to create authentic characters, developing them to the point where we care about them very deeply. Life's What Happens is set at Kent State University in Ohio in 1969/1970 and its characters are a group of fraternity brothers. This is the period of time at Kent State when the US nationally reinstated the military draft to get enough young men into military service to serve in the Viet Nam war. The fraternity brothers followed are predominantly seniors whose lives will be irrevocably changed when the numbers are drawn that will allow them to either finish their lives on a normal course or will send them to serve and quite possibly die in the rice paddies and jungles of Viet Nam. How this affects their lives and the lives of their girlfriends and friends is beautifully and accurately portrayed. The horrific event of the National Guard being called to quell peace protests on campus that led to the deaths of four students at the hands of the National Guard and the subsequent closing of the campus during finals is integrated into the story in a way that neither supports nor condemns the deaths of those students. The book is very well written with wonderful characters, memories of the good times they shared in college and the sorrow at the changes in their lives wrought by events outside of their control. I do suggest that the author check out the erroneous use of Marshall Law in the place of Martial Law, the law invoked that allowed the National Guard to be present on that fateful day in 1970.
ReadersFavorite4 More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Alice DiNizo for Readers Favorite It's 2012 and Don Williams drives his rented Mustang convertible through the Kent State University campus and the surrounding town to where he once lived at the Phi Psi Kappa house. He remembers back to the school year 1969-1970 when he was a student member of Phi Psi Kappa, a Kent State University fraternity housed in what was once a funeral home which had been bought and given to the fraternity by benefactor Brendan Harrigan. Kent State was a quiet, small university and was known as a suitcase college back in 1970 for most of the college students went home on weekends. The members of Phi Psi Kappa include, besides Don, Ted whose wealthy father expects much of him, Frank whose father is in with the Mob, Kevin who has been a student for more than the required four years, Ben or Bozo who is the fraternity head, Jeff who has a heart defect and owns a nasty, troublesome monkey named Carlos, and other memorable young men who study, drink and go about their young lives. But the war in Viet Nam continues and some of the Kent State fraternities are arranging for job deferments from the draft. However, in November, at Thanksgiving time, President Nixon signs the Executive order for Selective Service. The Phi Psi Kappa guys are mostly 1A or hold student deferments but with the upcoming "birthday" lottery, they know they'll be called into the armed forces. The Weatherman, Students for a Democratic Society and the Black Panthers begin arriving at Kent State and their protests against the war increase. The Kent State University massacre is well-known in history but how will the young men of Phi Psi Kappa fair in the midst of all this? "Life's What Happens" is the well-written and very poignant retelling of the days leading up to the notorious Kent State debacle. It tells of the lives of real people like Don and his fraternity brothers as they are drawn into the Viet Nam conflict from the safety of their college days. Colored pictures of the fraternity men and the girls they are dating are shown at the book's beginning along with a map of the campus at that time. The characters of Ben, Don, Frank, Fred, Barry, Jeff, Alonzo, Ted and all their fraternity brothers and the incoming pledge class are totally believable and the building of suspense and tension as Kent State's campus is infiltrated with protesters is done well but without partiality. "Life's What Happens" is a book that everyone will want to read, especially those who remember the tumultuous times of the late 1960's. Names of popular songs of the era at the head of each chapter lend a feeling of authenticity.
ReadersFavorite3 More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Darin Godby for Readers Favorite Authors Alex Parker and Kathy Clark allow the reader to go on an inside journey of the experiences on a local college campus when the draft of the Vietnam War takes place. In the book, "Life's What Happens" you are allowed to see the good, the bad, the happy and the sad when this event occurs within the lives of these students. While approximately 850,000 men's lives were changed by the lottery draft, this book allows you to see and feel how it affects those on the campus at Kent State. This book reaches into the hearts of nine young college men who will forever be impacted. Their friends, girlfriends, parents and families are greatly stirred by what is happening both around them and to their loved one. There are stories of how these young men find love, live in a frat house, and experience the understanding of a house mom who reaches out to help guide them along this journey. There is the priest of the school who eats with them and tries to influence them in a positive manner. Living in this local college town community builds a close bond with the local business owners, which help these young men and women while away from home. While I enjoyed the premise of the book, I do wish it had been shorter in length. I got a little weary of too many stories leading up to the portion about the draft. While I understand the need for the stories of various students, I feel that it could have been written tighter and still been just as effective.
ReadersFavorite2 More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Molly Edwards for Readers Favorite I've never been a big fan of reading about the Vietnam War. I've just never been into it. But authors Kathy Clark and Alex Parker make the journey back to drafting for Vietnam an exhilarating experience, to say the least. Each character had their own story to tell. And while they were all centered on the draft, their stories were each unique and captivating. Stories of love, life on a college campus, living with fraternity brothers and a life of partying. Those stories all pulled together to create a large, colorful picture. It really was interesting to see each character in their own element, but then pulling into the larger portion of the story and how the draft changed them. I will never look at the Vietnam war the same way again. This book will open your eyes to the intensity of life during this dream altering time. I didn't think I would actually enjoy reading a book like this but it moved me in so many ways. From characters that still your heart to writing styles that will captivate you, this is one awesome read. Thank you Kathy and Alex for an incredible read!!!
ReadersFavorite1 More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Anne Boling for Readers Favorite Don Williams returned to Kent State University in September of 2012. He drove the candy-apple red Mustang through the campus thinking back on his days as a student. He had returned to meet with Jennifer Kist an attorney. He sadly remembered the old hang outs that were gone. He pulled up to the frat house taking in the students and how different they were 30 years previously. Inside there were photos on the wall like ghosts of the past looking back at him. The memories of the past came flooding back to the year of 1969. The U.S. was involved in the Viet Nam War. Over 2 million men had been drafted between 1960-1970. The nation changed to a lottery draft. "It was truly a matter of life and death." "This is the story about nine young men, their friends, family and girlfriends and how one night changed their lives forever." A death brought the frat brothers back together, an inheritance would keep them together. On May 4, 1970 the students at Kent State University protested the draft and the war. The Ohio National Guard shot and killed 4 unarmed students killing them and injuring 9 others. Some of the students were bystanders watching the protest. The response to the shootings was a strike at many universities across the nation. Authors, Kathy Clark and Alex Parker have done an amazing job of bringing the era to life on the pages of this book. Too often such events are looked back on, shoulders shrugged and no more thought given. However, Parker and Clark remind readers of the dreadful day students were senselessly shot and killed. They paint a different view of the event with carefully crafted characters. Baby boomers and those interested in history will want to soak up the knowledge found within these pages. This is a tale you will not want to miss.
ReadersFavorite More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Stephanie Dagg for Readers Favorite "Life's What Happens" by Kathy Clark and Alan Parker encapsulates what happened in 1969 and 1970 to a generation of young people whose lives were irrevocably changed as a result of the first draft lottery in the Vietnam War. We begin and end the story in the present day, seeing some of the characters as they reunite at the Kent University Campus under mysterious circumstances. Their memories and their feelings on revisiting University now that they are so much older and wiser are very poignantly and beautifully portrayed. Those of us of a certain age can all sympathize with Don’s feelings of being invisible to today’s youth. The rest of the novel is the flashback to the fateful time shortly before and after the draft. From party-going youngsters out to have a good time and fit some study in, they are forced to grow up overnight and face huge responsibilities. Some cope, others don’t. Some act wisely, others panic and become victims of their circumstances. There are triumphs and tragedies, happy and sad endings. This is such an atmospheric novel, cleverly helped along by naming each chapter after a pop song of the period. The authors spare no detail and effort in recreating settings and sensations from the period in question. These range from the minutiae of fashion to the political background to all the turmoil that invades the students’ lives. It seems to be done effortlessly on their part but it calls on great skill and writership qualities to be so evocative. We feel we’re there in all the action, sharing the fun and then the tension and horror or the situations that arise. All the characters we meet are believable and persuasive, both as youths and their older selves. It’s not always easy to maintain interest in a large group of protagonists in a novel but these authors achieve this well. This is a gripping read, with its educational, historical, imaginative and very human ingredients. Brilliant writing.