Molly Ringwald, all grown up.

Molly Ringwald reads from her new work at the Princeton Public Library

 

If the Molly Ringwald you know wears a padded blazer and is still fawning over the popular boys, you’re long overdue for a fresh perspective. As soon as she stepped into the room at the Princeton Public Library on Friday, dressed in a modest, classic navy blue dress with a sweet smile, I knew we were in for a treat.

She’s recently released two extremely well-received books. She’s toying with the idea of adapting her most recent novel into a film. And now, to top off her overly robust resume, she’ll be releasing some jazz music come February. Will she ever stop?

Molly sauntered to the podium and sincerely thanked Janie of the PPL for the “beautiful introduction” as well as the audience for their patience, despite her lateness. In her words, traffic was “to die.” (Welcome to Route 1, Molly!)

She started the night by reading a bit from her new book, When It Happens to You, a novel in stories about the one situation we’ve all fallen victim to as well as evoked — betrayal. After whipping out a pair of stylish thick-rimmed black glasses, she started to read from the novel’s third story — “My Olivia” — the tale of a new, single mother with a transgendered child.

Full of raw, dark humor, the reading got a few good laughs from the audience, along with more vulnerable, raw moments of sorrow laced with hope. Having no expectations, I was pleasantly surprised by Molly’s ability to capture not just my attention, but also my heart, through her words. I find myself wondering what Olivia (or Oliver) is doing today.

Once she finished reading, the floor opened for questions. Molly wanted to hear directly from her fans, insisting on answering face-to-face.

One of the most exciting highlights from the Q&A session was Molly’s foreshadowing of a film in the making, where she would even play one of her characters.

“I would love to direct and adopt it, and I would even want to play the part of Marina,” Molly said. “It’s going to take a some work, though. It’s very much written in prose form.”

When asked about her inspiration for the book, Molly referenced some of her children’s friends, who she sensed were transgendered. As she saw the situation unfold, she discovered she could relate to their parents and found much inspiration through their families.

When did Molly Ringwald become a writer, you ask?

“When I turned 40 and didn’t care any longer.”

Molly explained that growing up as a teen star, she felt no other option than to continue acting. Thoughts of writing flitted about her mind, but she never believed she could really do it. Then she decided to silence all insecurities and released her first book, Getting the Pretty Back, which was labeled “a lighthearted guide for women,” “a woman’s dream bible,” and “a warm and chatty guide to aging gracefully.”

Speaking of her teen stardom, Molly calls herself “a survivor.” When asked if she ‘d choose the same path again, she replied, “My path chose me,” but added how dangerous teen stardom is now. “Not many make it through.”

Now that she’s made it, she seems stronger than ever. You’d think someone who was every 40-something’s “former teenage crush” (as her Twitter bio reads @MollyRingwald), would be overly confident or even a bit melodramatic. Molly seems to have it together. She hasn’t read a review of herself since she was 19, after a disheartening experience being called “fiercely competent.” She goes through books like socks, some of her current favorites being Gone Girl, which she labeled “literary crack,” Arcadia and If I Loved You I Would Tell You This. She’s a mother. She still has dreams. She’s just like the rest of us.

Genuine. Sincere. Vulnerable. Feminine. Gracious. Those are the words I would use to describe modern-day Molly. Between capturing our hearts with the stories of reading The Catcher in the Rye to her blind father, to making us giggle by emphatically opposing the parenting style of Ann, her character on The Secret Life, we all left the room with a new perspective of the wonderful woman who is Molly Ringwald.

Amanda Schoonover is a local writer, photographer and blogger. She manages communications at the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce and has her own blog, a thrifty hippie, which focuses on easy, frugal ways to live an eco-friendly and ethical lifestyle. You can follow her on twitter at @athriftyhippie.