Daniel Zimmer will do almost anything to end his pain—except for the one thing that might work.
Growing up in 1970s Brooklyn under the shadow of his tyrannical father and against the backdrop of the Son of Sam murders, the Karen Ann Quinlan tragedy, and the New York Yankees’ back-to-back championship seasons, Daniel Zimmer struggles to find a sense of safety and belonging. Daniel and his brother Max find moments of solace in the rebellious rhythms of early punk and metal bands like the Ramones and Judas Priest. But when faced with an unexpected family tragedy—for which he feels responsible—Daniel discovers the magical escape that alcohol can provide, numbing his pain and guilt.
Carrying the trauma of his youth into adulthood, Daniel falls deeper into alcoholism as he fights to face life on life’s terms. Then, just as he finally begins to embrace sobriety, Max attempts suicide and Daniel’s ex-fiancée makes an unexpected reappearance. Forced to face his demons head-on, Daniel struggles to take things one day at a time.
Flashing through Daniel’s life, past and present, this nostalgic ode to Brooklyn is an unflinching account of the inevitable ups and downs of recovery and coming of age. Ultimately, it is a story of the ravages of generational abuse and the power of recognizing addiction and opening the door to the possibilities of redemption.
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“These Things Happen” by Michael Eon had me on the edge of my seat from page one. Told from the perspective of thirty-two-year-old Daniel Zimmer, the story begins in a heart-breaking way: with him cradling Max, his older brother, who just attempted suicide. Daniel knew Max had been struggling; in fact, they both had been struggling for as long as he could remember. Growing up with a highly abusive, manipulative, and tyrannical father, the boys never recovered from the traumas and horrors they faced.
Even as adults, both had worked for their father’s very lucrative and successful real estate company, a job that more than paid the bills but sucked the soul out of them. Daniel had finally escaped working for their father years ago, but Max pushed forward, feeling as if he had nowhere else to go. Now, as Daniel looks at his brother, he realizes he did not understand the capacity with which Max was still struggling and cannot believe he walked in in the nick of time to call for help.
Eon writes in a way that flashes back and forth between the men’s present and past. He explores their childhood, detailing the horrific and tragic circumstances that caused their pain. An excellent writer, Eon had me captivated with grief for the story of these two brothers. He truly painted a picture of sorrow, one that filled me with emotion on their behalf and helped me understand why the two suffer as much as they do in adulthood.
As the story continues, the reader learns that both brothers, specifically Daniel, suffer from alcohol addiction. Much of the book focuses on this and how Daniel’s obsession with drinking leads to problems and failures in relationships. Attending Alcoholics Anonymous in an attempt for sobriety, even when Daniel is able to put down the bottle, he still struggles with the remaining steps of the program. Despite the help of Jill and Brie, two other major characters, Daniel still craves the solace he finds in drinking. Through Daniel’s story, Eon helps the reader explore the mind of an alcoholic, seeing how many various factors contribute to the challenges they face in overcoming addiction.
Although this story has its grim moments, I still finished the novel feeling hopeful. Almost all of the characters have a bleak narrative, but the story is told in a way that did not make me sad; rather, moved and wistful for a better future for everyone. Eon truly formulated a beautiful story, exploring so many serious and hard topics exceptionally. Overall, I really enjoyed reading this novel, and I think any who enjoys general fiction, specifically about addiction and grief, would too.– Theresa Kadair, Manhattan Book Review
About the Author:
Michael Eon earned a BA in psychology from the University of Michigan and an MA in international affairs from Columbia University. A former board member of the Audio Publishers Association and a former producer of major motion pictures and television productions, Michael worked in the publishing and entertainment industries for more than twenty years. Michael discovered the core of this story through the cathartic processing of autobiographical memories, following its evolution into this novel of redemption and recovery. Originally from the New York area, he currently lives in New Hampshire with his family. These Things Happen is his first novel.