A Liz and Lisa Best Book of the Month
“Evoking Emmy limited-series winner Big Little Lies, Whalen’s novel is about a Georgia town ripped apart when an outcast boy kills three cheerleaders in a car accident, bringing secrets and simmering tensions to the surface.” —The Hollywood Reporter
“A fast-paced, heart-pounding story with secrets, tragedy, finger pointing and forgiveness. The characters are multifaceted and interesting: some are caring, some cunning, some are hard as stone, and others are unpredictable. Whalen is a talented author and she brings small town values and troubles to life in this novel.” —RT Book Reviews
“As events of the night are slowly uncovered, all four women’s stories become intertwined, all coming to an explosive finale. A story of small-town secrets and the women behind them, the story will keep readers guessing until the end.” —The Parkersburg News and Sentinel
“Whalen (The Things We Wish Were True) delivers small-town anguish, anger, gossip, and heartbreak in this page-turner. For readers of Jodi Picoult and lovers of Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies.” —Library Journal
“A gripping, emotional read from an extremely talented author.” —Novel Gossip
“When We Were Worthy is a startlingly clear look at life in a small town where the carefully crafted characters are neither heroes nor villains—they are simply real people wedged into an unimaginable situation. Heart-wrenching and vivid, this is a beautifully written novel about letting go and holding on, of family, of love, and, ultimately, of forgiveness.” —Karen White, New York Times bestselling author
“When We Were Worthy is a poignant, haunting story of truths and secrets—the power of tragedy to unravel an entire community, and then stitch it back together—I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.” —Amber Smith, New York Times bestselling author of The Way I Used to Be
“Not everyone who lives in Worthy, Georgia lives up to the name. In When We Were Worthy, Marybeth Mayhew Whalen explores the spectrum of guilt and innocence in one small town after the tenuous connections between neighbors and friends are tested by a horrific accident. Told in alternating voices, this compulsively captivating novel weaves a tapestry of wrenching grief, love, anger, danger, and, eventually, hope.” —Ella Joy Olsen, author of Root, Petal, Thorn and Where the Sweet Bird Sings
“Fans of Liane Moriarty and Jodi Picoult—this is an author for your favorites shelf. Marybeth Mayhew Whalen’s taut, smart novel is a natural-born page-turner that doesn’t sacrifice depth of feeling or character. Whalen knows this town, these people, and she lays them open for us with razor-sharp insight, wit, and empathy. Don’t miss this one.” —Joshilyn Jackson, New York Times bestselling author of Gods in Alabama and The Almost Sisters
“What do you do when your whole life is turned around, crushed, and destroyed? Do you rise above it? Do you seek revenge? Do you run away? Do you blame yourself? When We Were Worthy is a brilliant, gripping novel that challenges the fabric of who we think we are, a story that speaks to both the fragility and strength of the human spirit in the wake of tragedy. I highly, highly recommend this novel!” —Joy Callaway, author of The Fifth Avenue Artists Society and Secret Sisters
“In When We Were Worthy, Marybeth Mayhew Whalen expertly weaves a haunting story of a small town ripped apart by tragedy. Narrated by four women—each with unique ties to the victims of a terrible car crash—each revealing secrets and lies that will make you second-guess everyone and everything. Written with heart and a splash of southern spice, When We Were Worthy is both charming and powerful.” —Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke, authors of The Good Widow
From the Publisher
1. How did the voices of the girls as they opened and closed the novel set or not set the tone of the story? In this brief glimpse of the three dead girls, do you feel you learn more about who they are? If so, how?
2. In her first chapter Darcy says of her ex-husband, “Tommy couldn’t rattle her anymore. He’d used all the tricks in his boring little playbook.” Is this true or not?
3. In her opening chapter, we learn that Ava had been “standing right in a sunspot that… rendered [her] invisible. She’d majored in English; she knew about metaphors.” How is this line part of her larger story?
4. In her opening, Marglyn tells her husband Hale, “Mary Claire doesn’t need me as much as Ginny does.” How is this true or not true?
5. When we first see Leah, she is watching the football players as they parade by and she recalls an incident where a girl tried to get them in trouble. “Leah could’ve told the girl that it was pointless to tattle on them. Those boys got away with everything.” How does this belief inform her actions in the story?
6. What would you have done if you were in Darcy’s place as Graham’s mother? Did she handle the situation as you would have?
7. How does Mary Claire appearing to Marglyn in her dreams help her through her grieving process? Have you ever heard of someone who has died appearing in a dream to a loved one? Do you find this creepy or comforting?
8. As Ava’s story was revealed, did you find her less despicable/more sympathetic? Why or why not?
9. Was the resolution of what happened to Leah satisfying to you? Was it realistic? How is this situation a commentary on our culture?
10. In your opinion, who is the hero of this story? Why?