I first saw Happens Every Day: An All-Too-True Story by Isabel Gillies at Starbucks and considering the fact that I’ve loved every “Starbucks book” I ever picked up, this one went on my to-read list as well.
For the fans of Law & Order: SVU – Isabel Gillies had a recurring role on the show playing Kathy Stabler. While at a wedding, Gillies reconnects with her childhood friend Josiah (I believe that’s a pseudonym), and the two initiate a relationship and eventually get married. Moving around to accommodate Josiah’s job as a college professor, the couple winds up in Oberlin, Ohio with their two young boys. Worlds away from the hustle and bustle of New York City, Gillies nevertheless builds a life for herself and her family in the quiet town. They buy and renovate a house, make friends, and Gillies even begins teaching acting at the college. All of a sudden, Josiah announces that he’s leaving Isabel and their two sons, and that he just “can’t do it” anymore.
Gillies is desperate to save her marriage, but Josiah has checked out with no desire to work on their relationship. No amount of tears, pleading, and inquiries from friends and family can change his mind. Gillies suspects that Josiah is involved with his colleague Sylvia, but often ignores her intuition when both Josiah and Sylvia insist that they are just friends. In perhaps the most heart-wrenching bit of the story, Josiah makes Gillies apologize to the other woman for insinuating that they are having an affair. What a way to displace his own guilt!
Happens Every Day was like sneaking a peak at someone’s diary; Gillies left out nothing in describing the nitty gritty details of her marriage and subsequent divorce. The result is a heart-wrenching story that made me want to reach out and tell Gillies, “Oh no! Don’t do that!”, only to realize that I’d probably do the same thing given the situation. In the end though, Gillies’ story is one of survival, hope, and happy endings.