The Things We Wish Were True by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen

Title: The Things We Wish Were True
Author: Marybeth Mayhew Whalen
Pages: 276
Year: 2016
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Rating: 4/5

Goodreads Synopsis: In an idyllic small-town neighborhood, a near tragedy triggers a series of dark revelations.

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?

This book kept me guessing right up until the end. Marybeth Mayhew Whalen has produced a suspenseful, and complex novel that causes the reader to question just how well they know the people living around them, and what secrets we all hold in the dark abysses of our lives.

Told from several POV characters, Whalen weaves each story line together into a connected web of experiences and tragedies. While this is a little confusing at first, I found it easy to differentiate between each character and POV chapter. Every character has a distinct voice, and I found it easy to follow each of their story lines once we established who everyone was. However, they have the most ridiculous names for small town-American characters. There’s Zell, Jency, Bryte, Everett, Lance, Pilar, Zara, etc, etc. I thought these names were interesting and it made it easy to keep everyone straight, but honestly who do you know from the deep south named Jency, Bryte, or Zell? If they had names like Tinsley or Kinsley or Lynnely, THAT I would believe. Southern people love naming their offspring after Presidents and adding -ly to the ends of names. That’s like their crack.  This is not a stereotype, I would know.

Another thing I thought about while reading this novel was who the main character was. We get so many different points of view, and follow so many different characters that it was hard to say that one particular character was the “main protagonist.” However, I think that Cailey was meant to be the main character because she is the only one who speaks in first person. She is also the only POV character that is not an adult.

This was a fairly short read, but it definitely sucked me in. I fell deep into the drama of Sycamore Glen, and I loved that it had a more suburban and classic southern feel. Being from the south, this book made me feel nostalgic and right at home between its pages. However, I wasn’t able to get too comfy, as I was speed-reading through each chapter trying to figure out all the little mysteries alongside the big one. Even though it was a little predictable at times, the suspense more than makes up for it. Honestly, even if you figured out all the mysteries ahead of time, I think you would still enjoy this book. Preferably read in the summer, on the beach, with a tall glass of lemonade or sweet tea.

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