The Things We Wish Were True: A Novel

The Things We Wish Were True: A Novel

by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen


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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?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781503936072
Publisher: Amazon Publishing
Publication date: 09/01/2016
Pages: 276
Sales rank: 259,564
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

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.

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The Things We Wish Were True: A Novel 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Maxine Murphy More than 1 year ago
A look behind the perfect exteriors of small town America. You get to see how seemingly unrelated happenings intertwine and weave together.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My second book by this writer and she is fast becoming one of my favorites. This was hard to put down! I look forward to more by this writer.
KateUnger More than 1 year ago
I could not put this book down. The Things We Wish Were True follows a group of neighbors over one summer. Everyone is keeping secrets, and they unfold slowly in this character-driven novel. The characters are brought together by a boy’s near-drowning at the neighborhood pool. The book switches between many characters, and that’s what kept my interest since character-driven books aren’t usually my thing. Jencey has recently moved back to Sycamore Glen to live with her parents. She runs into Bryte, her former best friend, at the neighborhood pool. Bryte is now married to Jencey’s first love, Everett. Jencey begins falling for Lance, a father of 2 whose wife left them many months ago. His next door neighbor, Zell, is almost like a mother to the group. Her children are grown now, and she’s been feeling a little lost. Add in Cailey, the older sister of the almost drowned boy, and the mix is complete. The characters are quite diverse, but they all have their own struggles. I loved them all. I blew through this book in just a couple of days. I had to know what the secrets were, and I wanted to see everything work out well for all of the characters. This novel was just pure delight to read. I need to get my hands on more books by Marybeth.
KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings There are family dramas and then there is this - a family drama with a neighborhood drama to boot! Within each family there is drama going on, normal family drama, nothing extreme, but at times their drama intermixes with their neighbors and that is what makes this book above the rest! Told through MULTIPLE perspectives, this book takes place over one summer and is just entertaining. I may have used a post it note or two to keep the families together and the issue their family was facing, but it didn't hinder the reading experience.
brf1948 More than 1 year ago
I received a free electronic copy of this novel from Netgalley, Marybeth Mayhew Whalen, and Lake Union Publishing in exchange for an honest review. Thank you all, for sharing your work with me. the suburb Sycamore Glenn, NC seems a lot like small town New Mexico in the sixties and seventies, with neighborhoods holding together through thick and thin, and watching out for one another. Marybeth Whalen does an excellent job with her protagonists - we understand where they are coming from and why they react as they do to various stimuli, as well as see into their hopes and fears. This is a story of hopes, and fears, and a coming of age tale of one child and several adults who inhabit Sycamore Glenn. It is a good story, one that will take you away from daily cares right into the lives so intertwined through the generations they could all be family. I recommend it highly.
pet1210 More than 1 year ago
The Things We Wish Were True follows the events within a small community in North Carolina over the summer of 2014. Told from multiple perspectives, one in first-person the rest in third-person, the diverse characters include Lance, a father trying to cope with his two children after his wife left, Jencey, a mother forced to return to her childhood home after her husband has been imprisoned, Zell, an older and somewhat lonely woman who loves to help out, Cailey, a young girl from a single-parent family in charge of her little brother, and Bryte and Everett, a couple with secrets and relationship dilemmas. Some of these characters meet for the first time at the neighborhood pool, others grew up together and have plenty of history. It was slightly confusing at first as many characters were introduced and the names really tested my memory of who was who. I was switching between listening and reading with this one, so that might have made it more difficult. This reminded me a lot of books by Liane Moriarty, except that instead of the Australian settings, there was the typical Southern charm. A bit like following a soap opera, but not in a negative way. It was actually quite compelling. A lot of drama, some of it was predictable, but I nevertheless was fully engaged throughout and cared about these really likable characters with all their secrets and struggles. My favorites were Zell, the inquisitive neighbor, and Cailey, the young but pretty astute girl. I think I'm generally used to more dark and suspenseful, but this was just a nice, cozy read and light entertainment for a few hours. 3.5 stars. The narrator of the audiobook did quite a good job of getting the Southern feel across and having the names read out prior to the perspective changing helped a lot to keep me straight about who is who. I received a copy of the eBook from Lake Union Publisher granting me my wish on NetGalley.
BooksAndSpoons More than 1 year ago
One small North Carolina town, a community pool, several storytellers, several points of views, and more pretense and secrets one could imagine. With each chapter in the book, the point of view of the story changes, a new person stands up and has their chance at the mic. While most tell their part of the story in the third person, one child, Cailey, does it from the first person point of view. The multiple points of view most likely help to get a full rounded picture of events of that one summer at Sycamore Glen, but it made it hard to get into the story, get connected to the characters and to care about them. Yes, some of the characters, like a little Cailey, touched my heart. She and her little brother were such warriors, trying to survive despite the circumstances. It seems like every single person in the little town has a secret, something they would rather hold to themselves till their grave. The level of dishonesty, betrayal, and deceit was so deep, it might make you question who you really can trust, is anyone telling the truth, being honest, not hiding something in your own life. At the end, the author manages to wrap everything up, to give the conclusion to the individual stories, to give hope for tomorrow for most of them. It wasn't an easy read by any standards, yet it does make you stop and think about your own life, and the possible secrets it holds, the people around you and their trustworthiness. The story surprised me by not being anything like I expected from the blurb, yet it gave food for the thought and managed to hold my interest all the way to the end. An interesting look at the small town living in Sycamore Glen, North Carolina, and the summer when most of the secrets came to light. ~ Three Spoons
Shelves_of_Knives More than 1 year ago
MEDIUM: Audiobook Read by Taylor Ann Krahn MY RATING: 3/5 Length: 8 hrs and 15 mins Published: September 01, 2016 by Brilliance Audio "And yet, 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." Sycamore Glen, North Carolina is a small town and as in every small town, everyone thinks they know everyone else’s business. The book opens as the citizens of the town are lined up outside the city pool waiting for the gate to open for the first swimming day of the year. The entrance is covered by a giant spider web, which is symbolic of the web of lies that are woven throughout the community. And just as the spider web is torn apart and swept away, by the end of the summer, every character’s secrets will be destroyed and exposed. As this book is full of secrets, I am not going to touch on the plot much, so as to avoid spoilers. This book was enjoyable, but it was nothing spectacular. My main complaint was probably the names of the characters. They were just a little too “soap opera” for me: Jencey, Bryte, Zell, Cailey, Lane, etc. The fact that nearly every single person in the book had some “boutique” name made the whole book less believable in my opinion. The other main complaint I had involved one of the subplots, involving a creepy old man who lived in the neighborhood. In the end, his role in the book was actually a pretty major thing, but this entire subplot was not given near the attention I think it should have been. During this opening day at the pool, an accident happens that pulls all the main characters together. This was done much like an ensemble cast movie, such as Magnolia, Love, Actually, Crash, 21 Grams, or Playing by Heart, where multiple seemingly unconncected storylines converge. This is my favorite type of movie, and although I normally love books like this, too, this one just didn’t do it for me. Maybe the author tried to hard to pull it off, and made a few too many storylines to deal with, I’m just not sure. I would recommend this to readers of chick-lit, and to those who love multiple storylines. In a review on Goodreads, a reviewer said this book reminded her of books written by Catherine Ryan Hyde, and I agree wholeheartedly, though I tend to think Hyde’s books are a little stronger than this novel. ⚔️ KNIVES’ RATING REPORT Plot ♥♥♥ Characters ♥♥♥ Writing ♥♥♥ Pacing ♥♥ Cover ♥♥♥ Overall ♥♥♥ As I agree this book reads like a Catherine Ryan Hyde book, here are a few of my favorites by her: Pay it Forward When I Found You Take Me With You Walk Me Home
CharlotteLynnsReviews More than 1 year ago
I have read a lot of small town stories, this one is a small neighborhood story. It is the type of neighborhood that everyone wants to live in. You know your neighbors, you know their families, and everyone comes together to help each other out. There is a lot of drama and even more heart within the neighbor’s story. Jencey and Bryte were best friends until Jencey moved away. They both want to reconnect yet there are somethings they just cannot talk about. This relationship was the most interesting to me. The boyfriends/husbands, the kids, and the secrets all were things that they needed to discuss in more depth than just how’s it going conversation. Yet, something was keeping them from having this discussion. This is something I believe most friends can relate to on some level when they move away or just grow apart. The reconnection is not easy and takes work from both parties. There were many more happenings within the story. The drama involved everyone in the neighborhood and more than once a story was revealed and I was shocked that I didn’t see it coming. The last shocker was my favorite. It was the ending I hoped for and was sure I was not going to get. I recommend this book to anyone looking for a fun story with relatable characters and a story that you hope won’t ever end.
Honolulubelle More than 1 year ago
Favorite Quotes: 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. My Review: 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 a 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.