“Two parts Gone Girl, two parts Notes on a Scandal. . .will play with your expectations about who’s the villain and who’s the victim.” — Jennifer Weiner, USA Today
The acclaimed, bestselling author of This Could Hurt returns with her biggest, boldest novel yet—an electrifying, twisty, and deeply emotional family drama, set on Manhattan’s glittering Upper East Side, that explores the dark side of love, the limits of loyalty, and the high cost of truth.
You can have everything, and still not have enough.
Cassie Quinn may only be twenty-three, but she knows a few things. One: money can’t buy happiness, but it’s certainly better to have it. Two: family matters most. Three: her younger brother Billy is not a rapist.
When Billy, a junior at Princeton, is arrested for assaulting his ex-girlfriend, Cassie races home to Manhattan to join forces with her big brother Nate and their parents, Lawrence and Eleanor. The Quinns scramble to hire the best legal minds money can buy, but Billy fits the all-too-familiar sex-offender profile—white, athletic, and privileged—that makes headlines and sways juries.
Meanwhile, Cassie struggles to understand why Billy’s ex Diana would go this far, even if the breakup was painful. And she knows how the end of first love can destroy someone: Her own years-long affair with a powerful, charismatic man left her shattered, and she’s only recently regained her footing.
As reporters converge outside their Upper East Side landmark building, the Quinns gird themselves for a media-saturated trial, and Cassie vows she’ll do whatever it takes to save Billy. But what if that means exposing her own darkest secrets to the world?
Lightning-paced and psychologically astute as it rockets toward an explosive ending, When We Were Bright and Beautiful is a dazzling novel that asks: who will pay the price when the truth is revealed?
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
A rape accusation tears apart one of Manhattan’s wealthiest families in Jillian Medoff’s gripping drama. Cassie Quinn can’t imagine her shy brother Billy hurting anyone, so when he’s arrested for sexual assault, she rushes home to stand by him and her family. But Cassie has a hard time staying focused on the legal struggles at hand when a problematic old love reappears in her life. 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. When We Were Bright and Beautiful is a pageturner.
In Medoff's emotional latest (after This Could Hurt), a young woman and her adoptive family contend with her younger brother's trial for sexual assault. Cassie Forrester-Quinn, 23, returns home to Manhattan from her graduate studies at Yale after Billy, a junior at Princeton, is arrested following accusations from his girlfriend, Diana. Cassie's older brother Nate bemoans how Billy will be skewered in the media as the "whole trifecta: rich, white, Ivy League athlete," despite his complicated, rocky history with Diana, whom Cassie sees as "manipulative and vindictive." As trial preparations begin, their mother, Eleanor, refuses to allow Billy to accept a plea deal, while their father, Lawrence, favors the plan in order to protect family secrets. Meanwhile, when a detective interviews Cassie, she mentions a sexual relationship she had with an older married man named Marcus when she was a teen. She's always believed the relationship was consensual, but now she begins processing how it's affected her life. Still, Cassie continues to support Billy, believing "women's feelings eclipse men's civil rights." Some of the twists end up feeling contrived after the revelations emerge, such as the full picture of Cassie and Marcus's connection, but Medoff does a good job developing Cassie's complicated feelings, and leaves readers reflecting on the family's intergenerational abuse of power. By the end, this is both satisfying and heartbreaking.