The Things We Wish Were True Book Review

This book was a slow burn. If you prefer something that is really fast paced that will keep you on the edge of your seat, The Things We Wish Were True by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen might not be for you.

However, if you don’t mind waiting to find out what the real intrigue of the story is going to be because you spend most of the book learning about the neighborhood and the cast of characters who live there, then definitely grab a copy of Whalen’s book for free from Prime Reading. Personally, I don’t mind a slow burn because character development is my favorite thing about stories.

The Things We Wish Were True

The Things We Wish Were True is set in a North Carolinan neighborhood during summer. From the outside, the neighborhood looks completely normal and probably even a really boring place. In some ways, it reminded me of my own small hometown where people tend to settle down and have kids or they go away for a while and come back to buy a house. There are several characters through which you see the neighborhood and you discover the problems that lie beneath the seemingly-idyllic surface.

It’s mentioned briefly and not a lot of weight is put on it, but the almost perfect neighborhood has suffered a loss. A little girl was kidnapped recently but people seem to just want to look away from the “Have You Seen Me?” posters and billboards. It’s too terrible a thing to happen in their town and they are too caught up in their own problems to really put a lot of thought into it (at least, that’s how I saw it). The few brief mentions of the girl weren’t enough for me to truly worry about her and I was surprised when the discovery of the girl was a huge moment for one of the characters. Though, perhaps I just got sucked into the other characters’ hesitation in even thinking about it too much.

Interestingly, it’s not the kidnapped girl who brings people in the neighborhood together. It’s the near drowning of a little boy named Cutter at the local pool where everyone spends the hot summer days. He’s saved by a man named Lance whose wife had abruptly left him and his children in order to assess if she wanted to continue the marriage. Cutter’s older sister, Cailey, goes to stay with a lady in the neighborhood named Zell because her single mom wasn’t going to be able to stay at the hospital with Cutter who was in a coma and work her multiple jobs. Lance starts a romance with Jencey who came back to town with her daughters after leaving as a teenager because of a stalker. Her husband was recently arrested for fraud and she had nowhere else to go but home. Jencey had a romantic relationship with Everett in high school, but he’s now married to Bryte who loved him in high school, but was best friends with Jencey. Those are all of the characters through which the book is written (each chapter is a different POV). Everything is connected and yet they all have their own specific problems and secrets that contribute to the suspense of the novel.

If this ever gets made into a movie, I can see Hollywood execs turning it into a creepy suspense thriller where “everything is not as it seems” and “can you even trust your neighbors anymore?” When in reality, it’s more like a love letter to small towns and the people in them and the secrets they harbor. It shows how a community comes together when one of their own is threatened and how the secrets they keep might tear them apart.

The Things We Wish Were True made me miss my small hometown with its quiet neighborhoods and people who say hi to you on the street even if you don’t know them (a habit that continually baffled me as a child because I was taught not to talk to strangers but there goes my mother saying “hi how are you?” to a random old lady walking her dog).

TL;DR: this book isn’t a thriller, but it is an interesting study of small town life and how kept secrets might keep that neighborhood together or how it might tear them apart. It’s definitely worth it to download it for free off Prime Reading on your Kindle like I did!

Everything We Keep Book Review

How would you feel if the person you had planned to spend the rest of your life with was suddenly gone? Except…they weren’t really gone? In Everything We Keep, Kerry Lonsdale explores grief and moving on, but with a special and unexpected twist.

Everything We Keep by Kerry Lonsdale

The book opens on a funeral scene that was supposed to be a wedding. Aimee Tierney just buried her childhood sweetheart, James, on the day that was supposed to be her wedding day. I’ve experienced loss, but I can’t imagine the agony of burying someone and your future together on the day you were supposed to join together for that future.

As Aimee was escaping the funeral, she was confronted by a woman who claimed to be a psychic and that James was still alive. Aimee tries to dismiss this idea and believe that James really did die in a boating accident in Mexico. She still keeps James’ clothes in the closet and his paintings on the wall, while she also tries to move on with her life.

The books spans almost two years. In those two years, Aimee buries James, opens a restaurant, and meets a handsome photographer named Ian. But she can’t let herself fall for Ian with even the slimmest of possibilities that James is still alive. She heads to Mexico to find answers with Ian in tow (he really loves her, okay).

I don’t want to spoil anything so I won’t get into details until later in this post and I’ll give you warning before I do.

Here’s what I thought of the book [free of big spoilers]:

It would probably make a good romance film to be released on Valentine’s Day. It’s a romance novel with thriller and intrigue parts that kept me reading. As a reader, I was invested in finding out what happened to James, I liked seeing how Aimee was able to move on and yet in the ways she wasn’t, i.e., keeping James’ suits in the closet.

To be perfectly honest, I didn’t love this book and I didn’t hate it either. I was marginally invested in the story and it was engrossing enough that I wanted to finish it. It was good, not great. I wouldn’t jump to recommend it to anyone because the writing didn’t blow my mind. But I liked it. The twist’s reveal and the ending made reading the rest of it worth.

The book did win all of these awards so far [I got them from Kerry Lonsdale’s website] so maybe I just have romance novel fatigue. Which is completely my fault because I keep reading them.

Everything We Keep

Top 20 Amazon Overall Bestselling book, 2016
#1 Amazon Kindle Bestseller for 5 straight weeks, 2016
#1 Amazon Bestselling Romance for 10 straight weeks, 2016
1st Place, Rose City RWA Golden Rose Contest, 2012
2nd Place, Northeast Ohio RWA Cleveland Rocks Romance Contest, 2012
3rd Place, Indiana RWA Golden Opportunity Contest, 2012 (highest first round score for the Mainstream with Romantic Elements Category)

OK HERE ARE THE SPOILERS:

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Here’s what I really loved about the story: James is still alive. Well, his body is. Aimee flies to Mexico and meets Carlos. Carlos looks very similar to James, he has his paintings (that disappeared from Aimee’s garage!!!), and he has been dreaming about Aimee’s face.

I was expecting that maybe one of James’ secretive parents had a love child and left it in Mexico (they seemed like the people who would do that). Or maybe Carlos was just James’ doppelganger and it was all a coincidence. But, what really happened is so much better than I was expecting. James was dead. Sort of. Because Carlos is the product of a dissociative fugue. He’s technically James but James’ personality and memories are no longer there. James experienced a traumatic event that forced his brain to protect himself in this manner.

I find psychological stuff like that so interesting. So the revelation about the fugue made the book good for me. But what really hooked me in at the very end was the epilogue. It was a dream James had about his traumatic incident and when he woke up, Carlos was gone and James was back. AND THEN THE BOOK ENDS.

I need a sequel because everything just got REALLY INTERESTING.