When We Were Worthy by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen

 

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“We were Worthy, a town and a team. The town was small, just 4,162 souls calling it home. And we knew just about all of them in one way or another. “

How much can you really know about your neighbors? How can all the adults possibly know what secrets are lurking behind those beatific cheerleader smiles or the monstrous meaning behind the handsome football players winks? A winning touchdown won’t shield the residents of Worthy, Georgia from the tragic deaths of three town darlings. That a sweet young man may be to blame, one of their own who lies injured in the hospital bed suspended in time, trapped by a fog of pain, not yet fully aware of what he has done. Can a mother protect him, will him to forget to keep him safe? The town is hungry for answers, to see someone punished! Everyone will turn on each other, some will remain silent, guarding their shameful secrets. Leah feels like a shadow, marked for death though she wasn’t in the car that night, even if she should have been. She carries survivor’s shame, can’t bear the stares that bore into her seeming to ask “why not you?” Just why wasn’t she in that car, something her own mother wonders too. There are secrets the cheerleaders took with them to their graves, ones she is a part of, one she needs to purge but cannot.

What of the mothers? The last time that Marglyn was with her daughter, there was a fight, how could she have possibly known what fate had in store for her? Shamed that her mind was on another child while Mary Claire needed her, she is weighted with regret and pain… so much pain. Darcy’s son was at the wheel of the other car, her sweet young son who would never harm a soul, now she must protect him fiercely from a town bent on revenge, a town that needs someone to pin their pain and shock on. Who better than the cause! Ava, substitute teacher, a local man’s wife, has a seedy secret, one she hopes died with the popular cheerleaders, those girls with eyes everywhere. Disgusted with herself, that she can find a small relief, safety for herself in such a tragic loss, one that took secrets that would be ruinous to her career, and worse, her marriage. Leah, sweet confused Leah whose best friends weren’t always the greatest, the girls she was supposed to be with and the dirty plan that had her left behind, oblivious that her friends were about to die… all these secrets will converge, splitting some people apart and drawing unlikely friendships and loves together. Is truth salvation, or will it lead to more destruction?

What of the men, what of the men in the lives of the women? They too will face the truth about their lives, strengths, weaknesses and everything in between. Some may see the things they’ve taken for granted, others will need to decide whether to let go or start something new. Some sniffing around women that belong to others, turning toward or away from their wives, stepping up for the children or having a hand in their downfall… no one is without blame. The town of Worthy is about to find out just what they are really made of.

I really enjoyed this more than I expected. Leah had my heart, I think there is a little Leah in every teenage girl, that hunger to be accepted. I think most mothers of teenage girls can relate to the distance and anger that Mary Alice has for her mother. As much as they love us, when girls begin to become young women they get embarrassed by us, even while needing us they carry such an emotional storm within that they lash out as much as they are tender. There is something feral in teenagers, but who can blame them with all those hormones running amok, we remember… we remember being the same. Not easy for mothers at all to see your sweet baby girl blossoming with the push and pull of need. Such a confusing time! Luckily for the majority of us, our bickering will be smoothed over later, not so here. The marriages are a wreck, women make huge mistakes being attention hungry. As the town judges and spouses too, the reader is privy to the internal strife of each character, with such knowledge, just who is to blame for the tragedy? No one or everyone? Sometimes it’s easier to turn on your loved ones rather than to realize how much responsibility you carry.

Publication Date: September 12, 2017

Lake Union Publishing

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