When We Were Bright and Beautiful
Reviews & Praise
Apple Best Books of August: “A rape accusation tears apart one of Manhattan’s wealthiest families in Medoff’s gripping drama…We were hooked by the troubled Quinn clan as they contend with a trial that threatens to expose everybody’s dirty laundry. Medoff’s intense story really kicks into high gear when Cassie begins doubting the truth about her family and their loyalties—and learns the hard way that some secrets never die, no matter how much money you throw at them. WWWBAB is a page turner.”
BOMC August Selection: “WWBAB is a masterful novel—it features the kind of propulsive storytelling that will rope you into reading it in one day. But more than that, it is also an important and daring book that will spark many lively and vital discussions about consent, wealth, power, privilege, and our preconceived ideas about how women’s stories should be told.”
The Hollywood Reporter raves: “Medoff’s fifth novel, about a wealthy family trying to protect their legacy after their youngest son is accused of a heinous crime, combines the wealth-intrigue of Succession with the mystery of a true-crime podcast — plus a little bit of LOLITA thrown into the page-turning mix.”
Lots of Love From Town & Country Magazine: “Medoff’s captivating, keenly observed new novel gives the well trafficked Trouble on the UES story a much needed jolt…”
Grace Atwood’s A Rating is Perfection: “First of all, I really loved this book. Loved might not be the right word: it is extremely dark. I read it in a single Sunday. Second, there is a pretty major content warning for sexual assault. But wow. This book. It was described to me as Gone Girl meets Gossip Girl which if you know me, makes for an absolute must read…This one is really, really dark. But unputdownable. I felt sick at times. But I could not stop reading…”
PEOPLE raves: “A haunting drama about the #MeToo era and the lies we believe in order to survive.”
Stunning Review in BookReporter: “Medoff’s simmering prose pulls us in for a contemporary story about a very old problem. When does the money mean nothing, and when must the privileged person face the music written by the powers of truth and someone else’s call for justice? As we watch such stories play out in the press every day, Cassie’s journey will prove that much more fascinating to today’s reader. WHEN WE WERE BRIGHT AND BEAUTIFUL is a book for these endlessly turbulent times and a comet force of a story that will satisfy our lust for surprises and plot twists. The shadows unveiled will stay with us long after the remarkable conclusion.”
Audible Editors August Pick: “Jillian Medoff delivers a fascinating look into the world of Upper East Side wealth and privilege in her audio page-turner… Narrator Marin Ireland captivates listeners as Cassie, the adopted daughter of the Quinn family…Emotional and deeply layered, Cassie is the definition of an unreliable narrator as her relationship with her adoptive family is not at all like it seems. Her shocking secret is revealed about three-quarters through the book, and I immediately wanted to stop, go back to the beginning, and re-listen to see how I could have missed the clues. Addictive from the start, Medoff’s engrossing twists and turns will keep you guessing until the satisfying yet heartbreaking end.”
PEOPLE Raves: “A haunting drama about the #MeToo era and the lies we believe in order to survive..”
Amazing Praise from Lee Woodruff: “This nuanced and sharply written novel looks at the dark underbelly of the rich, while examining the lengths we will go to save the people we love, even if we lose ourselves in the process.”
Big Love from O Daily: “A gifted novelist turns to an explosive topic—sexual assault—and the disquieting stories that leap to life from our darkest corners. When her younger brother, a Princeton student, is accused of rape by his girlfriend, Cassie Quinn rallies with her affluent Manhattan family to clear his name…Medoff writes with a soothsayer’s eye and a taut, alluring prose which winds inexorably to courtroom revelations and a shocking, shattering climax.”
AudioFile raves: “Marin Ireland narrates this provocative story…Ireland’s portrayal of Cassie is at first earnest, then becomes layered with languid self-importance as the listener begins to wonder whether she is aware of the depth of her own secrets. Ireland provides distinctive voices for Cassie’s family–her cold and controlling mother, her suave father, her depressed and terrified younger brother–and does well to modify each portrayal as their hidden stories unfold.”
Kirkus raves: “Like a magician pulling scarves from a sleeve… Medoff’s greatest feat in this novel is not the twisty plotting but rather Cassie’s evolving relationship with the reader, with storytelling itself, as she moves from suspiciously naïve to clearly unreliable… A layered and compelling peek into the darkest consequences of privilege.”
Best Summer Books, AARP/Ethel: “You are going to be thrilled with WWWBAB. This novel begs to be a book club selection because you are going to need to discuss these characters, the choices they make and the trouble we can get into making assumptions about what we think we know about the world of wealth and privilege.”
Terrific Review from Head Butler: “Medoff is a first-class novelist — I loved her last novel, THIS COULD HURT — and the trial yields real drama and a satisfying payoff.”
Publishers Weekly: “Medoff does a good job developing Cassie’s complicated feelings, and leaves readers reflecting… Both satisfying and heartbreaking.”
Bestselling author Jennifer Weiner in USA Today: “WWWBAB is two parts GONE GIRL, two parts NOTES ON A SCANDAL, and will play with your expectations about who’s the villain and who’s the victim.”
The brilliant Bethanne Patrick for Virtuoso Life: “…Medoff specializes in taking the dark view of institutions and social class; her latest proves her expertise and also delivers a pitiless perspective on whom we choose to protect and why.”
Booklist: “Through Cassie, the author explores the complexities of teenage girls’ sexuality and agency…Medoff’s clear sense of Cassie’s voice carries the novel throughout.”
Authorlink: “Medoff delves into the perilous subjects of pornography, consent and sexual assault in her suspenseful novel [as well as] a stunning twist…”
Novel Suspects: Five Legal Thrillers to Read Now
NJ Monthly: “Medoff has another sure hit with this fast-paced, immersive novel about consent, justice and wealth. A fascinating, gripping read.”
Pamela Klinger-Horn on Thoughts from a Page podcast: “Complicated family drama at its best… it’s absolutely compelling and there are twists you don’t see coming… you will be wanting to find out exactly how WWWBAB is going to come to a conclusion and it is stunning when it does.”
Jillian Medoff’s latest novel is an intricately crafted page turner with characters so flawed and fascinating, there’s absolutely no looking away from them. Smart, challenging, and deeply unsettling, WHEN WE WERE BRIGHT AND BEAUTIFUL will test your assumptions about guilt and innocence, and subvert your expectations until the very end.
—Jung Yun, author of SHELTER and O BEAUTIFUL
WWWBAB is a beautifully written and expertly paced examination of a privileged defendant and his family in the wake of an assault allegation. Narrated by the defendant’s sister Cassie, whose sharp voice is equal parts incisive and naive, the story covers much ground in American rape culture. Jillian Medoff’s latest offers plenty for discussion and is perfect for book clubs.
—Caitlin Wahrer, author of THE DAMAGE
This is Jillian Medoff’s best — deepest, wisest, most complex — work. Medoff dares to touch third rails in this novel, and doesn’t flinch when the sparks fly.
—Darin Strauss, award-winning author of THE QUEEN OF TUESDAY
Jillian Medoff has written a hell of a book, one that’s bound to captivate readers and ignite conversations.
—Grant Ginder, author of LET’S NOT DO THAT AGAIN and THE PEOPLE WE HATE AT THE WEDDING
I read WWWBAB in a few big gulps; deftly and beautifully written, it’s a fantastic page-turner with a shocking twist.
—Kate Christensen, award-winning author of THE LAST CRUISE and THE GREAT MAN
WWWBAB blew me away. Jillian Medoff’s gripping exploration of wealth, consent, and complicity tells the story of a loving family’s unraveling with the propulsive pace of the best thrillers. A masterful achievement.
—Aimee Molloy, NY Times bestselling author of THE PERFECT MOTHER and GOODNIGHT BEAUTIFUL
This transfixing slow burn of a novel kept me up hours past my bedtime, bewitched by Medoff’s ingenious storytelling, gorgeous prose, and complicated, fascinating characters. I loved it.
—Joanna Rakoff, author of MY SALINGER YEAR and A FORTUNATE AGE