When We Were Worthy,
by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen
Publication: Lake Union Publishing; September 12, 2017
About the book:
A win brought them together, but loss may tear them apart.
When the sound of sirens cuts through a cool fall night, the small town of Worthy, Georgia, hurdles from triumph to tragedy. Just hours before, they’d watched the Wildcats score a winning touchdown. Now, they’re faced with the deaths of three cheerleaders—their promising lives cut short in a fatal crash. And the boy in the other car—the only one to survive—is believed to be at fault. As rumors begin to fly and accusations spin, allegiances form and long-kept secrets emerge.
At the center of the whirlwind are four women, each grappling with loss, regret, shame, and lies: Marglyn, a grieving mother; Darcy, whose son had been behind the wheel; Ava, a substitute teacher with a scandalous secret; and Leah, a cheerleader who should have been in the car with her friends, but wasn’t. If the truth comes out, will it bring redemption—or will it be their downfall?
Who, What, When, etc.
When We Were Worthy is the upcoming novel from author Marybeth Mayhew Whalen, and it is a page-turner. In a tiny town named Worthy, it’s Friday night and time for high school football. After the win and when it’s time for the after-parties, three of the star cheerleaders – Brynne, Keary, and Mary Claire – are killed in a car accident. Another student, Graham, was driving the other car involved and is in the hospital. Surprisingly, the girls’ other best friend, Leah, was not with them.
Several other characters are involved but the novel is told from the points of view of the three cheerleaders in the accident, Mary Claire’s mother, Marglyn, Graham’s mother Darcy, Ava, a substitute teacher, and Leah, the friend left behind.
As the town begins to mourn and try to move forward after this tragedy, secrets begin to reveal themselves involving guilt, lies, betrayals, and unimaginable crimes.
Thoughts & Reactions
Warning to parents of teenagers – this novel is a nightmare! This town and the families went through complete hell with the loss of the three girls, Graham’s injuries and accusations regarding the accident, plus all of the other drama and anger being tossed around. The novel is tricky because it starts out intriguing, then slows a bit, then the drama and suspense increase until the end. I did find myself somewhat bored in the middle, but by the end, I realized the reasoning behind a lot of the details and everything tied together.
Initially, I struggled with so many different points of view, but again, this ended up feeling right in the end despite all of the different stories going on at once. Marglyn, Mary Claire’s mother, was feeling guilty over missing her daughter’s game, in addition to, frequent mother-daughter spats they had been having – both due to Marglyn helping a young girl named Ginny. Darcy was not only concerned about her son Graham healing from the accident and the backlash of supposedly “causing the accident,” but was also still healing from her husband leaving her for another woman. Ava was a mysterious character and a substitute at the high school since moving back to Worthy so her husband Clay could run his parents’ restaurant. Then there was Leah that was basically just a walking secret and had an odd relationship with her mother and her friend/boyfriend Talmedge.
If this novel sounds somewhat “busy” it is, but all of the varying subplots made this an incredible and suspenseful read. The author slowly revealed secrets and details making this a novel that I couldn’t wait to finish so that I could know what exactly happened and why. This is by no means a feel-good novel, but one of drama and suspense that eventually embodies justice and peace. If you are a fan of thrillers that slowly unravel secrets, then this should be the next novel on your TBR.
*Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing this ARC in exchange for my honest review!
Pre-Order When We Were Worthy on Amazon.
Learn more about Marybeth Mayhew Whalen.