Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Book Review: "The Things We Wish Were True" by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen

The Things We Wish Were True Marybeth Mayhew Whalen
Published: September 1, 2016
ISBN: 9781503936072
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: Goodreads Giveaway

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 Thoughts:
I'll give my review away right now...this was one of the most frustrating books I've read in a long time.

There were things in this book that piqued my interest. In fact, most of this book was interesting--but as one book it just didn't work.  There were too many plot lines and too many characters and, because of that, I was never able to get into any one of them.  The characters--Everett, Bryte, Jencey, Lance, Zell, and Cailey (I told you there were a lot of them)--are all initially intriguing--but because Whalen jumps between them so much, we never get more than a cursory introduction to them.

The same can be said for the story lines.  We have a love triangle introduced between Everett, Bryte, and Jencey but that is sort of left open while Jencey is put into another story line.  There are also some rather dark elements in some of the story lines that needed far more care and attention than Whalen gives them.  In the end, none of the story lines rose to enough prominence to make the book feel like a completed work.

Honestly, if Whalen had broken the story lines apart into separate novels and published them as a series, she might have ended up with 3-4 successful novels instead of one unsuccessful book.  I think Whalen had the right kernels of a decent story, but was never able to let them germinate.

Whalen does have a readable voice and I think she has great potential, but that isn't enough to save this book.

I won a copy of this book through a giveaway on Goodreads.  I was encouraged, but not expected, to write a review.  I received no compensation for this post.

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