Suburban life captivates many and often creates unique stories. In Marybeth Mayhew Whalen’s The Things We Wish Were True, we venture into the lives of one such neighborhood during the summer months. What begins with a basic summer aka pools, cookouts, and surface-level relationships, turns into a challenge for all of us to evaluate how we love our neighbors.
The story of Sycamore Glen, NC, is told from the viewpoint of several neighbors: Cailey (a young girl living in the local rent house), Jencey (a recently separated woman returning to her home town), Zell (an older woman with secrets of her own), and Bryte (the sweetheart wife and mother).
Each lets us see the truth of ourselves: that there is a delicate balance between taking care of ourselves while maintaining the secrets that seemingly keep the peace.
I’ve always been intrigued by neighborhood friendships. Take strangers, move them into homes of their choosing, and see what happens. Sometimes you get lucky and others times you don’t. The families in this book have lived within walking distance of each other most of their lives but never interacted past a quick hello as they dashed from one thing to the next.
Yet, as so often is the case, one incident forced them to face their past decisions and move forward in unity.
I love this book because it encapsulates so many of the books I’ve read and reviewed with you this summer. It reminds me none of us can act in a silo. We all need each other to move forward. Though reading can be a solitary activity, we’re able to gather around my book club to grow with each other. You all have been so kind to continue to support me and then share your love of reading with others.
Each character in The Things We Wish Were True was fighting a battle alone. They had been fighting it for years, yet in a few short months were able to truly find peace and healing because they worked together.
I love unity. I love how reading together and talking about fictional characters can allow each of us to deal with some issues within ourselves. Fiction allows a cushion for getting real.
As you read this novel, think about with which character you identify most. Read it with a few other friends and ask them the same question. Then, help each other move forward to your more peaceful fall.