I am not what happened to me. I am what I choose to become – Carl Jung
Who we choose to become is who we really are and this is what the author Marybeth is bringing home in this story. What happens in high school remains in high school is what most budding adults believe, till somebody finds the courage to speak out.
The town and the ball players
Worthy is, both a town of 4162, where everyone knows everyone and a football team, where Webb Hart, Ion Stone and Seth Bishop are the Gods on the football field. A town which reveres the players and the championship games, sometimes forgets to revere the rest who are trying to survive High School. Even the teachers and the administration look the other way on their antics when these team players are close to winning the championship.
Then there is Graham, who has been cut out from the team and down on his confidence, when his dad buys him a car and suddenly he is the man’s man. So to prove that, armed with a provisional licence, there is racing on to the Main Street ….
Where there are players there are cheerleaders, so enter the best friends Mary Claire, Brynne , Leah and Keary. Where there is a big win, there is an after party. So at her home, Mary Claire, Brynne and Keary get ready with Keary being the designated driver with just a driving permit, instead of Leah who is not seen since the game. The girls dress up , they dance, they drink beer, dance some more, put their make up on and they drive on to the Main Street….
Then there is an accident.. Very few eye witnesses… The girls are killed and Graham is critical and is later charged with vehicular manslaughter…
The girls’ parents are shocked and barely functioning, especially Maryglyn who is unable to forget the harsh words spoken with Mary Claire. Darcy, Graham’s mother is fearful for her son’s life as the town seems out for revenge. Ava, a substitute teacher, has her own secret which if revealed would destroy her.
Marybeth Mayhew Whalen has weaved the story in the voices of Maryglyn, Darcy, Ava and Leah. There are a lot of characters to begin with, which is a bit confusing till it smoothens out. Every chapter by Marybeth leaves us with questions, what did really happen in the accident, whose fault was it, how is a substitute teacher involved in it and what is Leah’s secret and why was she not in the car with the other girls. The curiosity and need to know increases as the pages turn, till it reaches the crescendo, and the shenanigans of Worthy’s High School is revealed. I, especially liked how the author binds all the sub-plots together, slowly, to the grand finish where everything is laid bare open. All the characters have a part to play in supporting the story.
This book is fast and absorbing. It is realistic yet sensitive. The pain of the parents, especially the cry of the mother when she is given the bad news shudders my soul even now. In the midst of the grief, Marybeth has put a fantastical element which brings hope and healing. I couldn’t put this book down till it got over, it left me thinking how High School is a political ground all on its own. This subject about what our kids go through in High School is so chilling that it is shocking and it brings home the fact, that when the kids push us away, that is the time when they actually need us the most.
The book is almost flawless except for a few niggles, I wanted a bit more dramatics at the end, a strong lesson in terms of repercussions to the players. I wanted the secret to come out with a stronger voice. But that’s purely me to satisfy my need for justice.
This is my first book by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen and my journey with this author will continue long. A few words written by Marybeth in the book which brought peace in the midst of mayhem
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without words
And never stops at all…
I received an ARC from NetGalley and publisher Lake Union Publishing and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.
My rating : 5 stars
About the Author
Marybeth Mayhew Whalen is the author of several novels, including When We Were Worthy and The Things We Wish Were True. She speaks to women’s groups around the United States and is the cofounder of the popular women’s fiction site http://www.shereads.org. Married for twenty-six years, she and her husband, Curt, live in North Carolina with their six children, ranging from young adult to elementary age. Although Marybeth spends most of her time in the grocery store, she occasionally escapes to scribble some words and work on her next novel.
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?
Publication date : 12th September 2017
Publisher : Lake Union Publishing
Available on Amazon
High School ballplayers & girls