The Things We Wish Were True by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen
About this book: (from the publisher) From the outside, Sycamore Glen, North Carolina, might look like the perfect all-American neighborhood. But behind the white picket fences lies a web of secrets that reach from house to house.
Up and down the streets, neighbors quietly bear the weight of their own pasts—until an accident at the community pool upsets the delicate equilibrium. And when tragic circumstances compel a woman to return to Sycamore Glen after years of self-imposed banishment, the tangle of the neighbors’ intertwined lives begins to unravel.
During the course of a sweltering summer, long-buried secrets are revealed, and the neighbors learn that it’s impossible to really know those closest to us. But is it impossible to love and forgive them?
About the author: Marybeth Mayhew Whalen is the author of The Things We Wish Were True and five previous novels. She speaks to women’s groups around the US. She is the co-founder of the popular women’s fiction site, She Reads. Marybeth and her husband Curt have been married for 25 years and are the parents of six children, ranging from young adult to elementary age. The family lives in North Carolina. Marybeth spends most of her time in the grocery store but occasionally escapes long enough to scribble some words. She is always at work on her next novel. You can find her at www.marybethwhalen.com.
Genre: Fiction/General/Contemporary/Women’s Fiction
If this book were a movie, I would rate it: PG-13 for some profanity and mature themes
[Tweet “Insightful and nuanced, @MarybethWhalen ‘s finest work to date @SheReadsBookCLB #SRBlog”]
Reflection: Every once in a while, I have the good fortune of reading a novel that surprises me more with every passing page. One that pulls me in from its first lines with masterfully constructed metaphors and an almost indecipherable pull of tension. These novels become a quick and effortless read, thanks to the author’s perfectly paced plotting and multi-voiced narrative — insightfully rendered, bearing all the marks of a pro.
Such a novel is full of secrets, yet nicely nuanced as not every secret is a wicked one, nor any character wholly good. Which therefore lends the narration a certain, sought-after gravitas, that spot-on tone that often proves elusive. This kind of novel often indicates that the author has hit her stride, delivering a story that is (IMHO) her finest work to date.
These are my favorite kinds of novels, actually, those that reach deep down into the recesses of humankind, touching the darkest places before rising again to leave a redemptive mark, not only on the characters’ lives but on my own soul.
The Things We Wish Were True was one of those.
Thanks to She Reads and Lake Union Publishing for providing me a free copy to review. All opinions are mine.
After words: What novel have you read lately that, quite simply, surprised you in all the right ways?