by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
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?
“With skill and compassion, Marybeth Whalen digs beneath the surface of a quiet suburban neighborhood to reveal its darker secret side. Full of unexpected twists and sympathetic, relatable characters, The Things We Wish Were True is both surprising and heartwarming and it’s sure to have you examining your own peaceful neighborhood with new eyes.” —Diane Chamberlain, USA Today bestselling author of Pretending to Dance
“The Things We Wish Were True masterfully blends dark, twisted secrets with a redemptive story about the power of community. As the families of Sycamore Glen, North Carolina, kick off summer at their neighborhood pool, Marybeth Mayhew Whalen peels back the layers of their past and present lives to reveal the underbelly of suburbia. A fabulous page-turner with the ending you want.” —Barbara Claypole White, bestselling author of The Perfect Son
“In The Things We Wish Were True, Marybeth Whalen has pulled off an impressive feat, an ever-shifting narrative through a neighborhood full of secrets. Each of these characters is compelling and fully realized, and the final twists and reveals left me breathless and, ultimately, at peace. An impressive achievement that you’ll want to put at the top of your to-read list.” —Catherine McKenzie, bestselling author of Hidden and Fractured
“This novel had me hooked at its premise—a near tragedy unites a group of relative strangers at their community pool—and kept me gripped in its aftermath. Marybeth Mayhew Whalen digs deeply and expertly into the rich and fascinating subject of how well do we really know our neighbors—and the far-reaching impact of a split-second decision on an otherwise predictable day. Suspenseful and emotionally charged, and perfectly steeped in the combustible heat of a North Carolina summer, The Things We Wish Were True is a must-read for any season.” —Erika Marks, author of The Last Treasure
She tolerated Althea, but she would never elect to vacation with her. The woman had the most alarming breasts. They looked like when her son stuck water balloons down his shirt to be funny; they hung absurdly low and moved independently from the rest of her.
He would not be Dad today. He would not hop up to solve anyone’s problems… He would burp and fart and not have to apologize for it because he would be no one’s role model for a good couple of hours. He had fantasized about this time nearly as much as he used to fantasize about sex. Who was he kidding? He still fantasized about sex. When he wasn’t too damn tired to do so.
She’d silently stored up his transgressions throughout their marriage, then spewed them at him all once, a human hydrant.
Jencey understood, there were the things she wished were true, and there was what was actually true. She was learning that there was usually a great distance between the two.
I held tension in my body while I read this intriguing, atmospheric, and engrossing tale. A prickly sense of foreboding settled over my brain and under my skin as disquieting heavy musings and ominous tones coursed through each page. Yet, there were also unexpected glimmers of humor and levity with clever observations and humorous and amusing imagery. Each character was well drawn – and there were many. And each one of these fascinating characters was struggling with either a long held and embarrassing secret, sense of guilt, feeling of personal inadequacy, dissatisfaction, anxiety, and/or sense of incompleteness. The plot was a tantalizing conundrum that sucked me in on page one and taunted me throughout by holding important puzzle pieces just out of reach. The story was masterfully scaffolded and maddeningly erected and would not allow me to stop reading in peace as I continued to ponder the storyline and characters when I was forced to pause my reading – under duress – for real life activities and an attempt at sleep. Marybeth Mayhew Whalen has mad skills.
Marybeth Mayhew Whalen is the author of five previous novels and speaks to women’s groups around the United States. She is the cofounder of the popular women’s fiction site She Reads and is active in a local writers’ group. Marybeth and her husband, Curt, have been married for twenty-four 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.