Book Reviews · Contemporary Fiction · Fiction · Young Adult

When We Were Worthy by Marybeth Mayhew Walen

About a month ago, I asked the lovely ladies of bookstagram for recommendations on books that bared similarity to one of my absolute favor shows, One Tree Hill. Yes, I’m extremely late to the OTH party, but fortunately no one judged me for it! In fact, I had a recommendation for a book called When We Were Worthy. Now, I can’t believe it took me so long to get my hands on a copy!


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?

My thoughts

I grew up in a small town, much like Worthy, where cheerleaders are like local celebrities, everyone knows everyone (and their mama, grandma, great-grandma…you get the gist, right?). Maybe it was because I started reading this book in that hometown, a small town in the Bible Belt, but this book hit so close to home for me. The story felt so authentically real, and I could truly see it coming to life with key players from my own hometown.

Just your friendly, neighborhood cheerleaders for the McDowell Titans… still not sure how this was 11 years ago!

When We Were Worthy was such a beautiful story of love, loss, and redemption. Told through the eyes of 4 narrators, each of the stories share the – yet still independent of each other. As the story progresses, overlap becomes evident until the moment that it all ties together. The story – but especially the ending – had me in tears and evoked such strong emotions from me. Marybeth truly wove together a perfect portrayal of small town southern culture and how religion, athletics, and economic status can shape the identity of individuals in the community.

I’ve been going through somewhat of a book slump – not exactly reading *bad books* per say, but I’ve really been struggling to stay fully immersed in books recently. This book ensured that did not happen. I dreaded the moments when I had to the put the book down because I was dying to know how the story turned out. Plus, at only 260 pages, this was such an easy, quick read. Buy your copy here.


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