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?
-Description on Amazon
I’d heard of The Things We Wish Were True maybe about a year and a half or so ago. I believe I first stumbled upon this title on Goodreads, and the description talked me into hitting that oh-so-addictive ‘Want to Read’ button.
Somewhere along the line, I think I read a bad review about this book and I decided it wasn’t worth buying. Then last month, I saw that Amazon included The Things We Wish Were True in the Prime Reading library, so I figured, “What the hell? Let’s give it a go.”
Once again, I’m disappointed in the book I chose to read, but at least I didn’t pay for this one!
After scrolling through some of the other reviews on Goodreads, I can see my complaints with this novel have already been voiced by others who were quicker to jump on the Things We Wish Were True bandwagon, so I’m glad I’m not alone on the things I’m about to say.
Where do I even begin…? Let’s start with the characters’ whacky names. Again, I know I’m not the first to address this, but Marybeth Mahew Whalen, just what were you thinking with those names?! As awful as these names were, I could almost get past Cutter, Zell, and Jencey (at least there was an explanation for that one), but Bryte was the one that made me cringe every time the name came up. I mean, really; is she named after her parents’ favorite stripper?
On to my next complaint…
There are WAY too many narrators in this story. Y’know when you start a new book and it sometimes takes awhile to really get into it? Well, this book took longer than most to really get my attention, and that’s because each chapter is narrated by a different character, and all but one narrate from a third-person point-of-view. Ugh.
As the story unfolds, we learn that each character has some type of major life crisis currently taking place:
- Bryte’s husband, Everett wants a second child, but they have trouble conceiving
- Jencey’s husband is in jail for white collar crime and she’s returned to her hometown from which she fled years ago to escape a dangerous stalker
- Lance’s wife walked out on him and he’s since started to move on
- Cailey’s mother is a floozey who left Cailey in charge of her brother, Cutter, and as a result, Cutter nearly drowned to death (and by the way, I made it about halfway through the damn book before I realized that by “11th year” Cailey meant to say she was 11 years old and not, in fact, in 11th grade)
- Zell has a bum knee
While there was certainly potential for a more riveting story (think of this book as the ugly stepsister to Big Little Lies), none of these plotlines are really developed enough to hold the reader’s interest. As I progressed through the story, I kept thinking, “where’s the action?” (and I don’t mean that in a Bruce Willis kind of way).
Just as I was thinking this book was completely anticlimactic, a minor storyline that was mentioned maybe twice throughout the bulk of the novel came back to the surface, and there was finally a bit of excitement, but this quickly faded away as we shifted focus back towards the main characters with their silly individual crises. Worst of all, the entire novel takes place during the span of one summer break, and somehow everyone’s story is magically wrapped up by the end of the season, even though some of these characters didn’t even know they had a problem until the very end of the book (and while that may make it seem like I’ve spoiled something in my review, I assure you I did not).
I’m learning just how bad I am at picking decent books lately, but my favorite part of finishing one book is freeing myself up for another!
Comment below if you have book recommendations for me, and don’t forget to subscribe so I have someone to listen to me!