In Marybeth Mayhew Whalen’s new novel, THE THINGS WE WISH WERE TRUE (Lake Union Publishing), tragedy strikes at the community pool, bringing together the entire neighborhood. The Sycamore Glen Neighborhood Pool opens on Memorial Day weekend, like it always does and it looks like it’s going to be a peaceful summer, until it isn’t.
Sycamore Glen in Matthews, North Carolina looks like most suburbs. It has lovely homes with families who go to work and school. The yards are nicely mowed, trees, bushes and flowers are well-landscaped with at least one car in the driveway. But behind the closed doors, each household has its own set of secrets.
At the center of THE THINGS WE WISH WERE TRUE, Jencey Cabot and her two young tween daughters Pilar and Zara, drive to Sycamore Glen thinking it’ll only be for a week or so. Once Jencey left for college years ago, she thought she left small town living behind for good. But after living the highlife, her hubby is caught in a money scam and hauled off to jail. With nowhere else to go, Jencey turns to mom and dad in Sycamore Glen, who can’t wait to see their granddaughters.
It’s not long before Jencey runs into her old flame and former best friend, Bryte and Everett, who are married with a nearly three-year old son named Christopher. Bryte is torn about going back to work, while Everett wants more kids.
Lance’s wife, Debra leaves town and her two young children, ten-year old, Lilah and her younger brother, Alec behind. He’s half out of his mind trying to be a single parent, working and now he has to turn to neighbors he doesn’t know for help.
Cailey and Cutter are two young kids, eleven and six, along with their drug-addicted mother living in the neighborhood eyesore. The neighbors are embarrassed by what the house looks like and want nothing to do with the family. Cailey and Cutter spend all their time at the neighborhood pool.
Zell is an older-woman living with her husband John. She’s a nosy-body keeping tabs on all her neighbors and the happenings of Sycamore Glen.
The big news story is a missing girl around Cailey’s age, and everyone is kind of on edge seeing her face on the television and billboards. Last but not least, there’s a strange older single guy named Mr. Doyle living in a dark house and all the kids have been told to stay away from him.
Whalen writes an ever-shifting narrative that keeps the pace moving, filled with numerous well-developed characters. Honestly, I applaud her for creating such diverse characters with unique characteristics. The family dynamics within each group and ease at which they came together with the community was written brilliantly.
THE THINGS WE WISH WERE TRUE examines how appearances don’t always add up and the power of community. In many ways, family become strangers and strangers become family. Can and do we really know those closest to us.
Marybeth Mayhew Whalen is the author of five previous novels and she is the cofounder of the popular women’s fiction site She Reads. Marybeth and her husband, Curt, have been married for twenty-four years and are the parents of six children. The family lives in North Carolina.She is always at work on her next novel.
Thanks to Lake Union Press and TLC Book Tours www.tlcbooktours.com we have one copy of THE THINGS WE WISH WERE TRUE to giveaway. Just tell us about something that happened in your community that had all the neighbors talking.
We’ll announce a winner Saturday. Good luck!
*NetGalley provided a copy for an honest review