Title: Who We Were
Author: B.M. Carroll
Publisher: Viper Books
Genre: crime fiction
Date of publication: May 7th 2020
Number of pages: 416 pages
Rating: 5 stars
A KILLER TWENTY-YEAR REUNION.
AND YOU’RE INVITED…
Twenty years after they went their separate ways, friends and enemies are coming together for their school reunion. Katy, who is desperate to show that she’s no longer the shy wallflower. Annabel, who ruled the school until a spectacular fall from grace. Zach, popular and cruel, but who says he’s a changed man. And Robbie, always the victim, who never stood a chance.
As the reunion nears, a terrible event that binds the group together will resurface. Because someone is still holding a grudge, and will stop at nothing to reveal their darkest secrets…
Once in a while, a novel hits close to home. So close that your heart wraps itself around the words and keeps them warm. The chapters ignite something in you that you thought was gone. I didn’t just relate to some elements of Who We Were. I clutched the book as a survivor medal. I am grateful that B.M. Carroll found the perfect way to capture those teenage years and the scars they leave.
High school doesn’t define you. Katy was once shy, and now she is beaming, at the top of her career. Annabel had won the Prom Queen title and tiara, but the shine didn’t last forever. Zach’s behavior and words were mean and sharp, far from the caring GP he has become. Twenty years ago, a high school year graduated. Twenty years later, Katy wants to reunite them. What better way to reconnect, see what everyone has become, compare their old aspirations to reality?
One chapter, one point of view. We get to compare the characters to the profile on their yearbook. I wish France had this kind of things. Or maybe not. As my profile (see above) shows, I was unpopular, different, not interested in dating, or partying, or anything deemed remotely ‘fun’ by teens I do not miss and would not agree to see again. I was the shy, top of the class girl who loved books more than guys. I was bullied and up to this day, never had a novel made me open my eyes to different stereotypes of high schools, nor talked to my heart in such as soothing way as did Who We Were. We only get to see the world through our own pair of eyes. B.M. Carroll opened my eyes to different sights, not as pretty as I would have thought.
So, back to the matter. The high school reunion planned by Katy takes a surprising turn when nasty messages find their way to several former students. Copying the profile they filed up in their yearbook, a mysterious person reveals mean and harsh facts, causing ripples in the lives of the adults they have all become. I like to think of Who We Were as a coming of age story. Why? Because life is an eternal coming of age story itself. We grow up until we die, nothing is set in marbles, but our experiences shape the person we become. Some find a brighter path, others peak at school, but we never truly shake the insecurities and traumas we go through. We learnt to live with them. And sometimes, we hold a grudge…
Twenty years is a long time and the novel is inhabited by many characters, so my radar was going crazy, and I couldn’t figure out who wanted revenge. Weirdly, it didn’t matter. What truly kept me engaged was the characterization, and the different angles with which the author handled many difficulties we are faced as youngsters, then adults. I like to think adults are kids who have eaten their spinach. We don’t know better, we just go along and pretend. The depth of this novel is outstanding and equals the tension ratcheting up with every chapter.
Who We Were is a cracking read. I was absorbed from the first to the final page. B.M. Carroll’s novel is stunning and addictive in every way.
Pub date is tomorrow May 7th! Get that pre-order going! This way!
My biggest thanks to the biting Viper team for inviting me to read and review such a fabulous novel. This post is my unbiased opinion.
B.M. Carroll was born in Ireland, and spent her early career working in finance. She is the author of eight novels, her most recent being The Missing Pieces of Sophie McCarthy. She lives in Sydney.