For my first book club meeting, one of the women in the group recommended The Things We Wish Were True by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen. It would not have been my first choice to read, but then that is the beauty of book clubs: they force you to get outside your literary comfort zone. A well meaning reader, I packed the book away into my vacation bags to read on my trip, and prioritized everything else on my TBR until a few days before book club.
The Things We Wish Were True falls somewhere in that hazy genre between women’s fiction, mystery/thriller, and literary fiction. The narrative is told from multiple perspectives, and is the story of what happens when an idyllic neighborhood builds its past around secrets. Sycamore Glen on the outside looks like any other suburban neighborhood, with beautiful homes and book clubs. When an accident occurs one summer at the community pool the fabric of the neighborhood is torn, and the lies that have built up the skeleton of the community begin to peek through.
The book is readable and flows well, and is a web of interconnected stories. There is Zell the town matriarch and nurturer, Jencey the wayward soul back years after she had sworn never to return, Bryte who with a husband and darling little boy has it all, and Cailey who as a young girl on the cusp of maturity must step into the role of both mother and sister to her little brother as her single working mama struggles to keep bread on the table.
The book for the most part is predictable with some surprises, and makes you question how well do you know the people who your yard and life intersects with. These middle class families could be anywhere, and I think that is the thing that drew me to the book. It called to mind my own childhood and community, and those lazy summer days that seem to stretch on forever. 4/5 stars and a humble apple pie for the book I didn’t think I would come to like as much as I did.