Hello everyone, and welcome back to The Bookworm’s Fantasy! I hope you’re all doing well. Today I’m posting my review for B.M. Carroll’s latest psychological thriller, ‘Who We Were’. I was lucky enough to take part in the blog tour for this book – you can find that here. I loved the book so much that I just had to review it in full! Keep reading to discover my thoughts…
If you looked the other way, should you be punished?
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…
** TRIGGER WARNING ** Explores the theme of bullying and abuse in great detail, with references to both physical and emotional violence. Substance abuse, specifically drug use, is also explored within the novel. The theme of mental illness is also depicted in great detail.
‘Who We Were’ (7th May 2020) is B.M. Carroll’s second novel, following on from ‘The Missing Pieces of Sophie McCarthy’ (2018). She has previously written women’s fiction under the name Ber Carroll. B.M. Carroll was born in Ireland, and spent her early career working in finance, before leaving to write books full time. She now lives in Sydney, Australia.
The book has received rave reviews, from the likes of Irish Independent: “A real winner, which encourages readers to reconsider their own time at school” and Daily Mail: “This clever story revolves around a 20-year school reunion, which in turn provides a fascinating comparison of how childhood friends become surprisingly different adults.” Fellow authors have also praised the novel, such as Liane Moriarty: “A wonderful writer of addictive, authentic Australian stories” and Jane Corry: “Reminds the reader that at the heart of many a seemingly-confident adult, there lurks an insecure child.”
‘Who We Were’ follows the lives of Katy, Annabel, Zach, Robbie, Melissa, Luke and Grace, twenty years after they all graduated from high school. The characters’ lives begin to intertwine again as they prepare for their school reunion. But strange things begin to happen, and it appears that somebody is still holding a grudge all these years later…
The narrative is told from the third-person throughout, with each chapter switching in focus between all the characters. There are also sections detailing each characters’ school yearbook entry, which provides some context and background regarding what type of person they were in high school. The narrative is fairly easy to follow, yet still is very effective.
Annabel Moore was the school captain, and is remembered for getting pregnant during high school with her boyfriend Jarrod. She is now a stay-at-home mother to two children. Luke Willis is a member of an airline cabin crew, who left school straight after his studies to work and travel the world. Grace McCrae was best friends with the popular Annabel, who is now also a stay-at-home mother to four children. Katy Buckley was not very memorable in school but is now a well-liked science teacher, and she is organising the production of the new school reunion yearbook. Melissa Andrews was very clever at school, and is now a successful married businesswoman, but she lives apart from her husband. Zach Latham was the class clown, but he’s now a successful doctor with a wife and child who has own’s syndrome.
Robbie is my favourite character in the novel. He had an extremely hard time at school and was badly bullied. All these years later he has lost his family and home, and he struggles to make ends meet. He’s a kind, innocent person who has unfortunately been dealt an unlucky hand in live. I felt a great deal of sympathy towards him and really related to him.
** TRIGGER WARNING ** (I apologise for any spoilers here.) The novel explores the theme of bullying and abuse in great detail. Carroll explores just how cruel children can be to each other in school through depictions of both physical and emotional violence. Substance abuse, specifically drug use, is also explored within the novel, as a young teenager begins to experiment with drugs and other dangerous substances. Finally, the theme of mental illness is also depicted in great detail. All of these issues are explored with appropriate sensitivity – but if you feel that any of these may trigger a negative response, I suggest you skip this book.
As the narrative motors onwards, the characters’ start to receive unwanted threats and nasty messages. It seems that somebody is still holding a grudge after all these years, and they will stop at nothing until they make their victim pay…
So, let’s talk about the ending! There’s a final dramatic end scene in which the truth about the perpetrator is finally revealed. I definitely never saw that coming, and was really shocked when I discovered who was really behind the attacks. The others must learn to put all their differences aside and confront the perpetrator, in order to save themselves and their loved ones. I really enjoyed the ending, and felt that it tied everything together brilliantly.
Overall, I highly recommend this novel to those of you who enjoy psychological thrillers, particularly if you don’t mind reading a large cast of characters’ accounts. It’s a very nostalgic book which brought back memories of my own school days! The characters are all very well-written and there’s plenty of suspense and tension throughout. For me personally, this lacked the “wow” factor to be able to award it 5-stars – but it’s certainly an excellent read.
Sound good? You can purchase the book here.
Happy reading 🙂