When We Were Bright and Beautiful
Harper, Aug. 2, 2022
ISBN-13 : 978-0063142022
WHEN WE WERE BRIGHT AND BEAUTIFUL
Review by Rochelle Jewel Shapiro
Step into the dark secrets of the Quinns, an Upper East Side family whose income may be around 700 million dollars. The deeply complex and witty narrator, twenty-three-year-old Cassie, knows that it’s better to be rich than poor but also has learned that money can’t buy you happiness.
Tragedy strikes when Cassie’s Princeton-educated, athletic, and handsome brother, Billy, gets accused of rape. Formerly, folks with this kind of money could sweep an accusation like this under their plush carpet. But not in the era of #MeToo. The fabulous wealth and good looks of Billy who represents white male privilege, make him immediately guilty in the vociferous court of public opinion. One of the profound questions this daring novel asks is do the white, uber rich deserve as much compassion as poor people of color.
Cassie, who escapes the sticky nest of her family and an affair with a powerful married man by taking a graduate program at Yale instead of staying in her stepfather’s foundation like her coke-snorting brother, Nate, is pulled back in when she tries to save Billy.
Novelist Jillian Medoff, author of bestselling, This Could Hurt, has woven legal, medical, architectural, and psychological research into this brilliant novel, When We Were Bright and Beautiful, without ever losing the propelling narrative. Like Medoff, Cassie is quite a storyteller who grabs the reader and doesn’t let go.
When We Were Bright and Beautiful is a novel that book clubs could fiercely debate and filmmakers could turn into a knockout of a movie. Can’t wait to see it.