book review

When We Were Worthy by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen

*Thank you to Netgalley and Lake Union Publishing for allowing me to read this book for free in exchange for my honest thoughts and opinions. 




Title: When We Were Worthy

Author: Marybeth Mayhew Whalen

Pages: 276

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

Publication Date: September 12, 2017

My Rating: 3/5

A win brought them together, but loss may tear them apart.

When the sound of sirens cuts through a cool fall night, the small town of Worthy, Georgia, hurtles from triumph to tragedy. Just hours before, they’d watched the Wildcats score a winning touchdown. Now, they’re faced with the deaths of three cheerleaders—their promising lives cut short in a fatal crash. And the boy in the other car—the only one to survive—is believed to be at fault. As rumors begin to fly and accusations spin, allegiances form and long-kept secrets emerge.

At the center of the whirlwind are four women, each grappling with loss, regret, shame, and lies: Marglyn, a grieving mother; Darcy, whose son had been behind the wheel; Ava, a substitute teacher with a scandalous secret; and Leah, a cheerleader who should have been in the car with her friends, but wasn’t. If the truth comes out, will it bring redemption—or will it be their downfall?


This book has one of the most misleading synopsis and covers that I have ever read. The cover and the synopsis lead the reader to believe that this is about the lives and deaths of three cheerleaders and how people in their town are dealing with it. When in actuality, their deaths are just a catalyst for the secrets and the pressures of living in a small town to come to the surface. Just go into this book knowing that the three cheerleaders who died are not that important and there isn’t a whole lot of the story that pertains to the boy who was in the other car. He is an element of the story but he is not even close to being the main focus. The best way I can describe this book is an analysis of what life in a small American football town could be like. I am confident that there are small towns like this but I don’t feel comfortable stating that as an absolute fact. With all that being said , I did really enjoy the story and I think it is important book to read in regards to rape culture.

The story revolves around four women, Ava, Leah, Marglyn and Darcy. I really enjoyed reading from all four perspectives and formatting the story that way really helped to tell a well rounded story. Each of these women has been damaged in some way by events leading up to the car crash or by the actual car crash. They are able to give such impactful accounts of what each of them are going through.  The women felt believable and I really felt for each of them and what they were going through. The male characters were really well done as well and each of them really added to the story.  The strength of the characters is what really kept the story moving and one of the main reasons I liked it so much.

This is an adult story about loss and forgiveness but I think the themes and messages in this book are great for all women 16 and up. The women are all written so well and it is easy to relate to all of them. I do think that the book tried to make things more mysterious then they really needed to be but at the same time I don’t know what different choices the author could have made to make it less mysterious. The ending was good and really tied things up nicely which I wasn’t really expecting but I love how it brought everything together.

There were a few different romances in this book but my favorite was Leah’s romance. It was so sweet and really built up nicely throughout the whole story. Plus the two characters already had a history so it was believable and no insta love! The adult romances were understandably messier which also helped to keep them believable which as you can tell, is a big deal for me when it comes to book romances.

Like I’ve mentioned before, I think this is an important book that really pushes us to think of what our society is prioritizing. Football is more important than how then players treat women and as long as players are winning, they can pretty much get away with anything. I hate the saying “boys will be boys” because it allows society (and parents) to demand less of boys. As a mom of three boys I am raising them to respect everyone, to treat everyone with kindness and to be gentleman. Just because they are boys they don’t get a free pass to just act however they want and do whatever they please.

Let me know your thoughts on some of the topics I talked about in this review. Whether you agree or disagree with me, my blog will always be a safe place to share your opinions 🙂



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