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The Things We Wish Were True by [Marybeth Mayhew Whalen]
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The Things We Wish Were True Kindle Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 6,565 ratings

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Length: 290 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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From the Editor

I like to think I know my neighbors. We’re very friendly. We chitchat, bake cookies for each other, and look out for one another’s kids. But after reading The Things We Wish Were True, I had to ask myself, just how well do I really know these people? Is the perfectly mown lawn any indicator of a tidy personal life? Could that cheery wave each morning be a cover for some sort of deep distress?

That’s what I love about this book—the tension that bubbles up from the assumption that everything is just as it seems from the outside. When in reality, it’s anything but. In this small neighborhood in North Carolina, secrets and heartache lie hidden behind closed doors. As the hot days of summer unspool, truths begin to come to light, revealing an intricate network of deception.

In Marybeth Mayhew Whalen’s telling, we see that it’s not only damage that can have far-reaching effects but also compassion and forgiveness. As this tightly knit community unravels, the neighbors find in each thread a chance to start anew. Which makes me breathe a sigh of relief as I look out the window, admiring my neighbor’s precisely pruned hedges.

- Jodi Warshaw, Editor

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Editorial Reviews


The Things We Wish Were True is a brilliant glimpse into the realities of suburban life. Startling. Compelling. Redemptive. It’s the kind of story that makes us wonder how well we really know ourselves—much less our neighbors. Marybeth Whalen has a gift for turning over the pretty surfaces of life, finding the hidden things beneath, and then exposing them to the light. I found myself drawn in, unable to look away from these characters and their dark, tender, familiar lives. I utterly loved this novel.” —Ariel Lawhon, author of The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress and Flight of Dreams

“Marybeth Whalen has a gift for illuminating the dark corners of suburban life. The neighbor you think you know...but do you really? The couple with the seemingly perfect marriage...until the blinds are drawn. The Things We Wish Were True is a novel that explores the nuances of community and belonging, showing us the hope, pain, disappointments, and joy that exist behind the facades of a typical American subdivision. The characters are relatable and engaging, and you’ll find yourself pulling for them all, from the overwhelmed single dad to the hyper-responsible young girl to the lonely empty-nester or the divorcee forced to return home and face the past she’d vowed to outrun. Perceptive, astute, and oh-so-relatable, The Things We Wish Were True is a winner!” —Kim Wright, author of The Unexpected Waltz and The Canterbury Sisters

“With skill and compassion, Marybeth Whalen digs beneath the surface of a quiet suburban neighborhood to reveal its darker secret side. Full of unexpected twists and sympathetic, relatable characters, The Things We Wish Were True is both surprising and heartwarming and it's sure to have you examining your own peaceful neighborhood with new eyes.” —Diane Chamberlain, USA Today bestselling author of Pretending to Dance

“The characters in The Things We Wish Were True may live in a small town, but their hearts are as big as all outdoors. Marybeth Whalen has created an ensemble cast whose lives intertwine and touch one another in moving and surprising ways. A generous, compassionate novel that will leave a warm glow long after the last page has been turned.” —Yona Zeldis McDonough, author of The House on Primrose Pond

The Things We Wish Were True masterfully blends dark, twisted secrets with a redemptive story about the power of community. As the families of Sycamore Glen, North Carolina, kick off summer at their neighborhood pool, Marybeth Mayhew Whalen peels back the layers of their past and present lives to reveal the underbelly of suburbia. A fabulous page-turner with the ending you want.” —Barbara Claypole White, bestselling author of The Perfect Son

The Things We Wish Were True is a story of startling truth revealed through the intricate lives of those we think we know. Profound. Perceptive. Marybeth Whalen knows how to braid together the seen and the unseen in a profound story that startles and enlightens. Readers will eagerly turn every page.” —Patti Callahan Henry, New York Times bestselling author

In The Things We Wish Were True, Marybeth Whalen has pulled off an impressive feat, an ever-shifting narrative through a neighborhood full of secrets. Each of these characters is compelling and fully realized, and the final twists and reveals left me breathless and, ultimately, at peace. An impressive achievement that you’ll want to put at the top of your to-read list.” —Catherine McKenzie, bestselling author of Hidden and Fractured

“This novel had me hooked at its premise—a near tragedy unites a group of relative strangers at their community pool—and kept me gripped in its aftermath. Marybeth Mayhew Whalen digs deeply and expertly into the rich and fascinating subject of how well do we really know our neighbors—and the far-reaching impact of a split-second decision on an otherwise predictable day. Suspenseful and emotionally charged, and perfectly steeped in the combustible heat of a North Carolina summer, The Things We Wish Were True is a must-read for any season.” —Erika Marks, author of The Last Treasure

“Written from multiple contrasting perspectives, each with a unique and memorable voice, the various stories are full of depth and intertwined in unpredictable ways. This novel captures the destruction that can be caused by secrets and reveals the mysteries of the story piece by piece, keeping readers intrigued and eager to keep going until the shocking and emotional end.” RT Book Reviews

“Whalen, director of the celebrated She Reads online book club...has crafted a compelling page-turner populated by characters we’ve all met and know in our everyday lives. Or do we? This book upends the myth of the American dream, examines the secrets that hide beneath the drapes of a typical neighborhood, and, ultimately, provides a compassionate testament to the power of community.” Library Journal

“Whalen (The Bridge Tender, 2014) takes readers on a guided tour through the joys and the difficulties of small-town life. With compelling characters and deeply engaging story lines, The Things We Wish Were True is a compassionate look at the strength of the individual and the power of community.” Booklist

Liz & Lisa Best Book of the Month Selection

About the Author

Marybeth Mayhew Whalen is the author of five previous novels and speaks to women’s groups around the United States. She is the cofounder of the popular women’s fiction site She Reads and is active in a local writers’ group. Marybeth and her husband, Curt, have been married for twenty-four years and are the parents of six children, ranging from young adult to elementary age. The family lives in North Carolina. Marybeth spends most of her time in the grocery store but occasionally escapes long enough to scribble some words. She is always at work on her next novel. You can find her at or

Product details

  • ASIN : B019K2JGYE
  • Publisher : Lake Union Publishing (September 1, 2016)
  • Publication date : September 1, 2016
  • Language: : English
  • File size : 1564 KB
  • Text-to-Speech : Enabled
  • Screen Reader : Supported
  • Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
  • X-Ray : Enabled
  • Word Wise : Enabled
  • Print length : 290 pages
  • Lending : Not Enabled
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.2 out of 5 stars 6,565 ratings

Customer reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5
6,565 global ratings
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Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States on August 1, 2016
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613 people found this helpful
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Reviewed in the United States on August 21, 2016
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32 people found this helpful
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Reviewed in the United States on January 22, 2017
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16 people found this helpful
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Reviewed in the United States on January 5, 2019
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Top reviews from other countries

5.0 out of 5 stars A great summer read
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 14, 2016
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13 people found this helpful
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3.0 out of 5 stars I nearly liked it a lot
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 3, 2017
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3 people found this helpful
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Read and Reviewed
4.0 out of 5 stars Mature & poignant story of a near tragedy that unites & changes the small-town of Sycamore Glen.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 27, 2019
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5.0 out of 5 stars A page turner!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 16, 2016
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7 people found this helpful
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vicky n
2.0 out of 5 stars It was ok
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 17, 2017
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2 people found this helpful
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