“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.”
With that, you have the title of “The Things We Wish Were True.” It’s about a group of people (quite a few actually — you’ll exercise your brain in keeping up with them, because the viewpoint switches from one character to another in each chapter) who live in a small community. It’s summertime, and most all of them hang out at the pool during the days, and you learn about the secrets everyone has.
I finished this book a few days ago. It’s not my usual type of read, and I kept going over it in my mind, trying to think of what it reminded me of. Then it hit me: a soap opera. I don’t watch soap operas, and never have, except for a few years in college. I attended a small church, and one of the major sources of conversation among the women there was the Days of Our Lives soap opera. So, to fit in, I began watching it. Day by day, I’d follow the trials and traumas of Victor, Marlena, and the gang. There were always cliffhangers, and lots of drama, but honestly, not a whole lot ever really changed. That’s kind of how this book felt.
The book did hold my attention, and I read it pretty quickly because I wanted to know what happened to all the characters.
I probably related most to Zell, although I was a bit annoyed/confused that she was constantly referred to as “the older woman,” even though from a description or two she was probably my age (early 50s). I could relate to some of her thinking: “She listened to the two younger women talk, feeling superfluous not unlike the discarded towels, the crumpled juice boxes, the wet footprints that appeared on the concrete, then just as quickly faded away.”
“She thought about her own life with young children, how overwhelming things had seemed then and she’d been a stay-at-home mom with no outside responsibilities. There were so many things she’d intended to do with them, for them, but the time got away and then it was over.”
The names in this book got on my last nerve. I know that names are a very individual, subjective thing. But seriously — Jencey, Pilar, Cutter, Cailey, Zell, Bryte? You’ll meet them all here.
In keeping with the soap opera theme, I became annoyed at all the talking the characters did about their feelings. Maybe it’s because I’m pretty strictly a no-drama person, but once a secret had been spilled, I was ready to move on, not read about the characters discussing it for 20 pages.
I always like to read the author’s note in a book. In this case, the author (Marybeth Mayhew Whalen) appears to be a Christian; at least, she tells the “Master Storyteller” that “my pen is in your capable hand” and then writes the Biblical reference 1 Chronicles 16:8-12. Yet, the book has incidences of adultery and a brief but hearty burst of profanity. I know, these things do occur in a fallen world. It just seemed strange to me to include them in a book where you then credit the Lord.
I’d term this book “chick lit,” and with all the secrets and drama, I can see it being read quite a bit.
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