When We Were Worthy by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen

When We Were Worthy by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full length (278 pgs)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

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?

Small towns are known for a variety of things. Community. Support. Gossip. Oh, and the secrets. There are always secrets, right? Worthy is no different and when a tragic accident takes the lives of four of their cheerleaders, all that they thought was hidden rises to the surface. It doesn’t take much to become famous – or infamous – in a small town. What is the truth, how did they get here, and will the town ever recover?

Told in alternating points of view, When We Were Worthy, is an emotional roller coaster of a novel. Margalyn’s conflicted feelings over the loss of her daughter and the chance to help another, less fortunate girl, hit me the hardest. As a mother, I can understand her position and why she did what she did. Darcy’s story is probably the most tragic, and in a lot of ways, I can relate to her as well. Who wouldn’t do everything they could to protect their child? Even when that child is guilty, they’re still yours. Ava and Leah are both compelling characters with their own secrets and, although I don’t necessarily relate to them as well as the others, they deserve to be heard and seen and understood.

Through the eyes of four very different women, we see a town in mourning as well as a town with problems like any others. When We Were Worthy is a story of redemption, of forgiveness, and human nature at work. These women aren’t perfect by any means, but they are who they are and, by the end of the novel, they have come full circle, having examined the best and worst in both themselves and the town surrounding them. No one comes out unscathed, but everyone comes out changed. You just have to hope that the change is for the better.


  1. I like that this story is told from different POVs.

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