Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Things We Wish Were True” as Want to Read:
The Things We Wish Were True
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Things We Wish Were True

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  39,337 ratings  ·  2,534 reviews

In an idyllic small-town neighborhood, a near tragedy triggers a series of dark revelations.

From the outside, Sycamore Glen, North Carolina, might look like the perfect all-American neighborhood. But behind the white picket fences lies a web of secrets that reach from house to house.

Up and down the streets, neighbors quietly bear the weight of their own pasts—until an

Kindle Edition, 290 pages
Published September 1st 2016 by Lake Union Publishing
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Things We Wish Were True, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Caitlyn Lamm I almost wonder if it was supposed to be Cailey because she's the only character the author wrote in first person.…moreI almost wonder if it was supposed to be Cailey because she's the only character the author wrote in first person.(less)
This question contains spoilers... (view spoiler)
Sonnet Fitzgerald I put off reading this book for AGES because of the same concern. I can't do child death.

So no kids die in this book. However there is a near …more
I put off reading this book for AGES because of the same concern. I can't do child death.

So no kids die in this book. However there is a near drowning, a minor sexual assault of a child, and a kidnapping. Everything ends up okay and the kids are safe. None of those stories are particularly graphic (the drowning goes into the most detail) but now you can go into it knowing exactly what to expect.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.82  · 
Rating details
 ·  39,337 ratings  ·  2,534 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Things We Wish Were True
Chelsea Humphrey
Sep 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: from-publisher
I believe I've found another trustworthy publisher in Lake Union; I particularly seem to gravitate toward their women's fiction releases since they tend to be a reliable pick for my interests. I have loved the past 5 reads from them and am excited to read the last few I have sitting on my shelf. These books aren't as romance focused as others; sure there are typically romantic relationships, but it's only a portion of the plot instead of the main event. Once again, Marybeth Mayhew Whalen has del ...more
'The Things We Wish Were True' was a book that I picked up with my Kindle Unlimited membership. I listened to the Audible edition and it was better than I expected. This story had a lot going on, but the author managed to weave the characters and events together seamlessly. It was my first Marybeth Mayhew Whalen book, but it won't be my last.

The story is set in the small, southern town of Sycamore Glen, North Carolina. I enjoyed the description of this town and thought that the author did a fabu
A spider's intricately spun web blocks the entrance to the neighborhood swimming pool on opening day, a portent of some sticky situations in store for the residents of Sycamore Glen. There isn't a person in the group who doesn't have a secret. And yes, those secrets will all be laid bare before summer's end.

I didn't really get the sense of a small town with this one. It had more of a cozy neighborhood feel about it. Best friends trying to reconnect, saying too much, sharing too little. Would re
Larry H
Aug 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle-first
"And yet, Jencey understood, there were the things she wished were true, and there was what was actually true. She was learning that there was usually a great distance between the two.

Sycamore Glen, North Carolina is one of those small towns. You know, the ones where everyone knows everyone's business, where people remain entangled in each other's lives from childhood on, where secrets are hidden just out of sight. Bryte grew up in Sycamore Glen, pining for the boy her best friend dated, wanting
Diane S ☔
3.5 Sycamore Glen, North Carolina, the small town Jancy left after high school, threatened by a stalker that none could identify. Now her husband in prison, she and her two young daughters have returned home to her mother, the boy she left behind now married to the woman who had been her best friend. Over the course of the summer, a summer spent at the local pool, a near tragedy will occur and long held secrets will be revealed.

This book is incredibly readable, it flows so well, alternately told
Sep 19, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
3+ stars. I really enjoyed The Things We Wish Were True for the first two thirds of the book, and then it started taking a couple of turns I didn’t like as much and my enthusiasm fizzled a bit. But I still enjoyed it enough to say it was worth reading as a lighter entertaining read. The novel is told from the perspective of a few neighbours living in a small town in North Carolina. Their lives are intertwined in various ways, and they all have secrets and troubles of some sort or another. The ch ...more
This book is hard to take seriously, especially with characters with names such as Zell, Jencey, Cailey, Bryte and Lance. It's difficult to get past the names--the whole time I was reading I was wondering--did no one at any point have the courage to tell the author just how ridiculous they are? Isn't that what editors, publishers, etc. are for?

Silly names notwithstanding, I found this book to be mediocre but readable. The many "mysteries" and big "secrets" weren't all that suspenseful and were
Sep 27, 2016 rated it did not like it
So this book in the end did not live up to the hype I kept seeing all over the place with it. With shifting perspectives (there were six people to track in this book) and the author choosing to make 5 out of 6 told in the third person there was way too much going on for me to even really care about all of these characters.

In addition, due to the plethora of characters, the development of almost all of these characters was shallow. The only exception to this was the character of Cailey. Ms. Whale
Dec 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: x-4-half-star
Rating 4.5/5.0

The story starts at the beginning of the summer in a small neighborhood. Everybody is getting ready to go to the neighborhood's pool. This summer something happens there that interconnects different families' stories and problems in an interesting way. The nice thing about what the author did is that she gave us the different families' stories from the different characters perspectives. Loved how the characters felt detailed and deep except for the names which take a while to keep
Dec 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sycamore Glen in North Carolina is a very small town, everyone knows everyone and everyone else's business, or do they? Lurking behind these friendships, many are hiding secrets and lies while others are quite oblivious to what is happening around them. A near tragedy occurs, which in one sense will bring some closer together but for others, it may tear them apart. The story is told by four women Bryte, Jencey, Zell and Cailey all very different and each with their own set of troubles, but all v ...more
Catherine McKenzie
Wow, this book packs a punch. The story unwinds through the alternating perspectives of a host of characters living in the same small town who are all connected through a web of secrets and lies. Deftly told. Highly recommend.
Terry ~ Huntress of Erudition
I received this from the publisher and Netgalley for my honest review.

This book was good, but not great. I wish I had started it at the beginning of the summer - It's the perfect book to read by the pool, it was a quick read and entertaining, but a few things bothered me:
1. Only Cailey's chapters were written in the first person and Cailey's herself spoke more like a middle-aged woman than a 10 or 12 year old girl, it just didn't sound authentic.
2. The storyline was a little convoluted - too man
And yet, Jencey understood, there were the things she wished were true, and there was what was actually true. She was learning that there was usually a great distance between the two.

If you can get past the unusual names of the main characters, you might be able to enjoy this story: Bryte (is it pronounced like Bright or like Britt?), Cutter, Jencey, Pilar, Zara, and Zell, with a life jacket thrown in by way of Everett, Lance and Cailey. I've never understood it when authors settle on such names
Aug 02, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is a book that wishes it were written by Liane Moriarty. But it was not. Lots of intersecting plot lines that made me say "Wait, what?" and overused awkward phrases ("That she is" came up a LOT). ...more
Jul 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was the first book I read by this author, and I really enjoyed it. To me it was reminiscent of books by Catherine Ryan Hyde, who I also really enjoy (Don't Let Me Go, specifically). The story takes place during the summer of 2014 and focuses on several families who visit the community pool every year and how their lives intersect. It is told from different points of view, which adds to the unique story line, and focuses on the hidden secrets each one is harboring. And they are all harboring ...more
Mary Ann
Aug 02, 2016 rated it liked it
I got this as a Kindle Prime freebie. It's not exactly soaring prose, and the plot is predictable, but I liked and cared about the characters.
Sep 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
The Things We Wish Were True follows the events within a small community in North Carolina over the summer of 2014.
Told from multiple perspectives, one in first-person the rest in third-person, the diverse characters include Lance, a father trying to cope with his two children after his wife left, Jencey, a mother forced to return to her childhood home after her husband has been imprisoned, Zell, an older and somewhat lonely woman who loves to help out, Cailey, a young girl from a single-parent
Sep 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
The Things We Wish Were True is mesh of genres that focuses on a neighborhood, it's residents, and the past and present happenings there. There are 4 key families whose histories together may be different than they each think. The secrets all begin to unravel one sweltering summer. Will the neighbors' relationships survive when all that is hidden comes to light? Can they forgive if they can't forget? There is definitely more going on than meets the eye, and will probably surprise you.

After finis
Danielle (The Blonde Likes Books)
3.5 stars! While this wasn't quite what I expected (for some reason I thought it would be more of a domestic suspense), this was pleasantly surprising! The Things We Wish Were True is about a group of people who all have pasts that are intertwined. After a traumatic event happens one summer, secrets start to be revealed among each person, both from the past and present. Overall, the book kept my attention, and I liked the characters. It was a little confusing at first trying to keep all of the d ...more
Feb 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: southern-lit
At first glance life in Sycamore Glen North Carolina is idyllic. A neighborhood where nothing much has changed except the age of the occupants. But nothing is as it seems. Just below the surface there are resentments,fears, old jealousies. A generational tale as well with kids turned grown-ups parenting their children who challenge them as they did their parents.
The story is told in alternating perspectives by the principals of the story.Overall this was easy for me to get into and stay with. If
N.N. Light
Nov 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sooo good. Once I started, I couldn't stop reading.

My Rating: 5 stars
Lorrea - WhatChaReadin'?
The Things We Wish Were True takes place in a small town in North Carolina during the summer of 2014. It's a very close knit community and most residents have lived there most of their lives. From Zell, the neighborhood matriarch to Jancey the "prodigal" daughter returning after making a quick escape after high school. Each character has their own story and each story intertwines with each character. It includes twists and turns that will make you need to find out what is going to happen next.

Ange H
Apr 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I am torn on how to rate this book. The character's names are uniformly ridiculous; the writing is pedestrian; the "surprises" can be seen coming from a mile away, etc. So I really feel like I shouldn’t give it more than three stars.

But I my rating is based on how much I enjoyed it, what a hoot it was to read, and the certainty that I would buy another book by this same author - so 5 stars it is!

I devoured this in a few days. A boatload of characters interact with each other in a seemingly perf
Judy D Collins
A special thank you to Lake Union and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Marybeth Mayhew Whalen pulls you into an all American contemporary neighborhood, with dark secrets and lies, seems everyone is hiding something in her latest: THINGS WE WISH WERE TRUE –a Southern charmer looks beneath the pristine exteriors of this friendly North Carolina neighborhood.

In this idyllic Matthews, NC suburban neighborhood Sycamore Glen, everyone meets at the neighborhood pool. There is muc
I received this book through NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

Dropped at 45% percent- I can't push myself to read any further, it's keeping me from other books.

To be completely fair and honest- I'm from North Carolina. I'm writing this review in North Carolina, not too far from where the book is based in (an analog Matthews). I can't bring myself to keep reading because, to be honest, if I wanted to hear a bunch of dissatisfied North Carolinians complain abou
Mar 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ku
This is book that isn't something I would normally read, so much that I can't 'fit' it onto any of my numerous goodreads shelves. It isn't quite an 'unreliable' narrator it is more a reliable but reluctant narrators. Slow, reluctant, reliable narrators with really weird names.

The story is set in a town in Georgia over one summer. Our numerous protagonists gradually come together through crisis, tragedy and trauma. Most of the characters have secrets which will be revealed. Some ARE fairly easy
Vanessa S.
Nov 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
A quick read that still packs a punch, The Things We Wish Were True tells the story of neighbors in a small North Carolina town. It took me a little bit of time to know which character was which, but after that, I enjoyed the alternating perspectives. The book was a bit overly dramatic (think soap opera) at times, but it kept me interested. I am pleased with the ending, and my main complaint about the book is that most of the characters have unusual names, as if the author gave them unique names ...more
3.5 Stars: “Things We Wish were True” is a relatable novel of humans making do: living everyday life, hoping for the best, believing in the best (even when it’s contrary to the obvious). Denial is a big theme as is loss. Although this sounds like a heartbreaking tale, it’s not. It’s a testament to the human spirit.

Told in alternating POV’s, which is one of my favorite plot devices, the reader gets a multidimensional look at the story. It’s a story of the 2014 summer in a suburb of Sycamore Glen,
Ms Stef
There seems to be a trend in books about secrets among women and how it effects those around them. Or maybe I am just picking up increasingly more of this “style” of book.
The Things We Wish Were True plays out like a day time soap opera or life time made for TV movie. Everyone has a secret big or small and by not telling anybody their secrets, they expand into something bigger. The chapters are short and slowly give away pieces of the puzzle to slowly reveal the damaging secrets of most characte
Vicki Willis
Mar 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: z-2018
This book was a fast read with believable characters. I liked how it alternated perspectives and many of the characters were intertwined. It seemed that everyone had a secret and some of them were surprising. The setting of a suburban neighborhood in the summer really worked for me! A great book I would highly recommend.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Everything We Keep (Everything #1)
  • Sisters One, Two, Three
  • Evelyn, After
  • We're All Damaged
  • Who We Were Before
  • The Best of Friends
  • The Shadow Box
  • In an Instant
  • My Husband's Secret
  • Open House
  • Deliver Her
  • When We Believed in Mermaids
  • Every Last Secret
  • Dark Harbor (Sam Lawson #3)
  • Every Single Secret
  • Midair
  • The Intersect
  • Last Day
See similar books…
See top shelves…
Marybeth Mayhew Whalen is the author of When We Were Worthy, The Things We Wish Were True and five previous novels. She speaks to women's groups around the US. She is the co-founder of the popular women's fiction site, She Reads Marybeth and her husband Curt have been married for 26 years and are the parents of six children. The family lives in North Carolina. Marybeth spends mos ...more

Related Articles

  Mateo Askaripour is a Brooklyn-based writer whose debut novel, Black Buck—which Colson Whitehead calls a “mesmerizing novel, executing a high...
76 likes · 8 comments
“there were the things she wished were true, and there was what was actually true. She was learning that there was usually a great distance between the two.” 5 likes
“Did life add to or take away from who we are at sixteen? The” 3 likes
More quotes…