When We Were Bright and Beautiful: A Novel

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When college student Billy Quinn is accused of raping his ex-girlfriend, Diana, his wealthy family rallies to his defense. They’re certain he’s innocent, and they hire a top lawyer to prove it in court. Billy’s sister, Cassie, returns from grad school at Yale to the family home in Manhattan to support Billy. Cassie sees her life at Yale as a much-needed escape, but she doesn’t really make much effort to stay away, allowing herself to be sucked back into twisted relationships. Troubling memories lurk in the family’s historic apartment, and a volatile family history overshadows everything. As the courtroom battle heats up, Cassie begins questioning her family loyalties—indeed, the very idea of family itself.

This is a problematic, both-sides type of novel about the #MeToo movement and its backlash, where the power of wealth and privilege are both acknowledged and allowed to prevail. It’s also a novel about sexual abuse and pedophilia, plot points that emerge—shockingly—when readers might be looking elsewhere. The courtroom drama is gripping, but it may be difficult for readers to invest in the outcome. The “bright and beautiful” people in the Quinn family are seriously, and horribly, flawed.


Reviewed By:

Author Jillian Medoff
Star Count 3/5
Format Hard
Page Count 336 pages
Publisher HarperCollins
Publish Date 02-Aug-2022
ISBN 9780063142022
Bookshop.org Buy this Book
Issue October 2022
Category Mystery, Crime, Thriller
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Description

When college student Billy Quinn is accused of raping his ex-girlfriend, Diana, his wealthy family rallies to his defense. They’re certain he’s innocent, and they hire a top lawyer to prove it in court. Billy’s sister, Cassie, returns from grad school at Yale to the family home in Manhattan to support Billy. Cassie sees her life at Yale as a much-needed escape, but she doesn’t really make much effort to stay away, allowing herself to be sucked back into twisted relationships. Troubling memories lurk in the family’s historic apartment, and a volatile family history overshadows everything. As the courtroom battle heats up, Cassie begins questioning her family loyalties—indeed, the very idea of family itself.

This is a problematic, both-sides type of novel about the #MeToo movement and its backlash, where the power of wealth and privilege are both acknowledged and allowed to prevail. It’s also a novel about sexual abuse and pedophilia, plot points that emerge—shockingly—when readers might be looking elsewhere. The courtroom drama is gripping, but it may be difficult for readers to invest in the outcome. The “bright and beautiful” people in the Quinn family are seriously, and horribly, flawed.

Additional information

Author Jillian Medoff
Star Count 3/5
Format Hard
Page Count 336 pages
Publish Date HarperCollins
ISBN 9780063142022
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue October 2022
Category Mystery, Crime, Thriller
Share