Happens Every Day by Isabel Gillies

27 of 49
Happens Every Day
272 pages; Scribner
Josiah Robinson (not his real name) falls in love with Isabel Gillies (her real name) when he is 7. Fifteen years later, they remeet. This time Isabel reciprocates. Josiah, a beautiful poet ("Heathcliff with an earring"), says: "I will call you at 2:30 and if you aren't there I'll try every minute after until you are." Reader, she marries him. She abandons her New York acting career and follows him to a teaching post in Ohio.

"I missed any signs of trouble," Isabel writes in Happens Every Day: An All-Too-True Story. The reader won't. Isabel throws Josiah into her new best friend Sylvia's path over and over. She makes the thing happen she is most afraid of happening.

If Gillies weren't so plucky, she would break your heart. When the blow comes, it's her sons she is most devastated for. They are blessed to have her kind of love. It's the same kind of love Isabel got growing up, mother-lode mother love.

"I am not a writer, but I have been told I write good e-mails," Gillies says. I bet.
— Patricia Volk