Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Review: When We Were Worthy by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen (audio)

Title: When We Were Worthy
Author: Marybeth Mayhew Whalen
Narrator: Joshilyn Jackson
Published: September 2017, Brilliance Audio / Lake Union Publishing
Length: 9 hours 11 minutes / 276 pages
Source: Audio - Personal copy via Audible / Print - ARC Paperback via Publisher
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, hurtles 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?

My thoughts: This is only the second book I've read by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen, the first being her previous book, The Things We Wish Were True, and one thing I can say about her writing is that it totally consumes you. You find yourself totally wrapped up in the plot, wanting to know what is going on, you want to get to the bottom of what has happened and you become completely invested in her characters.

While I did grow up in a small town, football was not the "be all and end all" and we did not have Friday Night football, though I always wished we did! And I definitely didn't grow up in the South - not that any of this is a prerequisite to enjoy this book, because one thing this author is so good at doing is creating that small town feeling. I felt by the end of this book like I was a part of this small town of Worthy. I felt that I was right there with the characters and that's no easy feat.

I liked the way the story is told - alternating points of view between four different women who are affected by the accident. Each one has their own burdens to bear and ever so slowly the story unravels, and we see just how small this town really is. What I found fascinating, and coming from a small town where I could so appreciate this, is that while you may think no one is watching or paying attention - there always is someone taking notice! It is mind-boggling to realize just how interconnected small towns really are.

There are so many different threads and themes running through this book. There's perception and how we all look at something very differently. There's teenage peer pressure and the whole idea of wanting to belong - really at any age. There's grief and how we all deal with that in our own way. So much food for thought in this little book - so much to take away from it.

Audio thoughts: So even though I had the print version of this book, when I saw that Joshilyn Jackson was narrating this...I had to listen to it - how could I not? I love listening to her voice...I listen to all her books on audio just because she narrates them, so I was curious to see how she would do narrating someone else's work. Well, she did great! Not that I'm surprised...she's a natural at this, especially since this is a southern book and Joshilyn herself is from the south, so this, in my opinion, was just a natural fit. As for the narration itself, Joshilyn worked her magic - all the characters had their own personalities and voices, the pacing was good and this was just a good book to listen to.

When We Were Worthy by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen is the She Reads September reading selection pick.
Head over to the She Reads website to read reviews and related posts of this book, as well as posts related to the other book club selections.


1 comment

  1. Really JJ narrates this, how wonderful. I really liked this book, it was my first by MMW. When I have forgotten the story then I know the audiobook will be a great listen.


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