[Book Review] When We Were Worthy by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen

Book Review of When We Were Worthy by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen
When We Were Worthy
by
Marybeth Mayhew Whalen

Blurb:
“When the sound of sirens cuts through a cool fall night, the small town of Worthy, Georgia, hurtles from triumph to tragedy. Just hours before, they’d watched the Wildcats score a winning touchdown. Now, they’re faced with the deaths of three cheerleaders–their promising lives cut short in a fatal crash. And the boy in the other car–the only one to survive–is believed to be at fault. As rumors begin to fly and accusations spin, allegiances form and long-kept secrets emerge. At the center of the whirlwind are four women, each grappling with loss, regret, shame, and lies: Marglyn, a grieving mother; Darcy, whose son had been behind the wheel; Ava, a substitute teacher with a scandalous secret; and Leah, a cheerleader who should have been in the car with her friends, but wasn’t. If the truth comes out, will it bring redemption–or will it be their downfall?”
My Review:
When We Were Worthy is the SheReads book for September! This book is written by Marybeth Whalen, who is one of the cofounders of www.shereads.org, of which I am a reviewer for. Marybeth has a way of writing people. It’s so fun to delve into her worlds because the characters come to life on the page. It’s the drama, though. Oh, the drama! Do normal neighborhoods have this much drama? In this book, Marybeth takes an unfortunate event (one that’s unfortunately not that uncommon) and then she allows the reader the view the event from several women’s viewpoints. This was one sticky point for me; I could not keep these women straight for the life of me. Every time I got to a new chapter I had to go back and figure out who this woman was and how she fit in the story. I’m not sure why, since they’re all very different, but I had a hard time with this. Once I figured out which woman was which though, the story and the drama intrigued me. I couldn’t put the book down because I had to know what would happen next. At first I thought I related to Ava because she was a substitute at the school, and she had little children, and her family was very important to her. Oh yeah, and then I learned her little secret, and I decided I didn’t relate to her much at all. As the story unfolds, you learn more about each woman, her past, and her present situation, and you watch her growth through the rest of the book. None of us like these trials we have in life, but trials make us grow stronger, and they help us learn vital things about ourselves and others. It was also interesting to watch the men in these women’s lives. Some of them learned and grew better because of it, and some of them took wrong turns. Trials also help us put our lives in perspective and help us to focus on our priorities. Or, they can send us spinning out of control, causing us to lose what is most important to us. I think it’s important not to allow the latter to happen. Use the trials in your life to help you grow and strengthen your talents, and to focus on what’s really important in life. Ok, I’m getting a little more philosophical than I thought I would with this review. Oops! Sorry! Can you tell I’ve been going through a little adversity myself lately? Anyway, even though it’s a tragic situation, I enjoyed the book. I loved delving into the world of Worthy, Georgia. I thought the book was well written and the characters were very well developed. I enjoyed this book a lot.
Here’s the trailer for the book:
Rating: R (This book is not appropriate for younger readers. There is at least one “f” word, and there is some other profanity, but not much. There are some very adult themes in this book, along with a rape.)
Recommendation: Adult
Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

The Things We Wish Were True

The Things We Wish Were True by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen

Blurb:
“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?”
My Review:
I was excited to read this book because Marybeth Whalen is one of the amazing SheReads.org ladies! Let me tell you, this book did not disappoint! You know when you’re sitting at the neighborhood pool or park over the summer with your friends and you get all the neighborly gossip? Well, this book brings that juicy gossip to life. Overall, this book is well written. There are a lot of characters, and it took me a minute to figure out who they all were, but once you get them all straight it’s not too bad. The time changes from present to past events, and it’s usually fairly easy to figure out in what time period you’re reading. Even though there are a lot of characters, they are very well developed. Each character has his or her own personality and place in the neighborhood, and Marybeth does a great job of bringing them to life on the page. You seriously feel like this is your neighborhood and you are sitting right there with all the characters at the pool. Cailey is a cute character. She is well written and usually easy to like. Zell is an interesting character. She seems like the mom of the neighborhood. She is older and her kids have moved out, but she isn’t ready to stop taking care of little ones, so she likes taking care of everyone in the neighborhood. There is a little bit of mystery surrounding her, though, and it makes you wonder what happened. Bryte seems like a fun young mom. These are just a few of the characters that I liked in the story. The book may seem simple on the surface, but there are many facets and layers to the story, and as each one unravels, more of the truth is revealed. There are quite a few twists and turns in this book that keep you turning the pages. And no, I could not put it down! My children may have been a little bit ignored as I read this book; oops! 
Rating: R (There’s some profanity in this book, but not a whole lot. There is “intimacy.” There are innuendos, talk about it, and it does happen, but the scenes are not detailed at all-pretty much you know it happens and that’s all. There’s no violence. I rated it higher because there are adult themes in the book that I don’t think are appropriate for younger readers.)
Recommendation: Adult (May be ok for 18+)
Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.