• When We Were Bright and Beautiful

  • A Novel
  • By: Jillian Medoff
  • Narrated by: Marin Ireland
  • Length: 11 hrs and 39 mins
  • 4.1 out of 5 stars (297 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The acclaimed, best-selling 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 23, 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? 

©2022 Jillian Medoff (P)2022 HarperCollins Publishers

Editorial Review

All that glitters is not gold
Jillian Medoff delivers a fascinating look into the world of Upper East Side wealth and privilege in her audio page-turner, When We Were Bright and Beautiful. Narrator Marin Ireland captivates listeners as Cassie, the adopted daughter of the Quinn family, grappling with her younger brother’s trial for sexual assault. 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. — Margaret H.

What listeners say about When We Were Bright and Beautiful

Average Customer Ratings
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Identity politics

Well, you lost me on chapter 7 with the woke liberal bs. I am so done with writers asserting their political agendas and innuendo. I immediately stop listening and return any titles spouting identity politics. And FYI if you haven’t noticed we have soaring crime, insane inflation and global instability under your woke policies.

6 people found this helpful

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I kept waiting...

I don't write reviews often, and I especially don't like writing negative comments about a book...but, I thought this was just poor writing, poor character development, poor story. I didn't believe the characters and I don't believe Cassandra could make the abrupt turn she makes at the end. The whole story wasn't entertaining, and I only finished it because I need something to listen to as I walk the dog. Sorry.

2 people found this helpful

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Predictable

Unfortunately The twist which wasn’t told until late in the story became obvious very early on.

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To Each Their Own

Let me start out with this was not a book for me, other people might enjoy it but I did not like it. I feel very much that the description of the book is misleading. Billy is accused of rape, and yes and no i found myself flipping and flopping a bit on whether or not Billy did it. Through the building of the case the book focuses on Casie and her secret. It's a pretty horrific secret, but the way it develops doesn't sit right. I also feel that Casie is an incredibly unlikable person which is a huge problem since the whole book is from her perspective.

1 person found this helpful

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  • :)
  • 09-17-22

An incredibly honest account of living as a survivor

One of the truest accounts of living with rape and sexual assault. The blame on ourselves, the hatred of ourselves. It is something that lives inside us no matter how many times people say it’s not your fault. As broken as I am by this book, I am also so grateful for its honesty and truth. There is a part of us, the survivors, of myself, that will always be broken and always blame myself. The healing is a life long battle.
Thank you Jillian Medoff.

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Terrible story

Difficult listen and terrible story. Not worth the time to listen. Poor narration as well.

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Smartly written, theatrical performance

Medoff’s quick pace and hard driving style I found unique. I enjoyed her story construction and riveting flow. Apart from the theme, I was personally thrusted into a menagerie of haughty characters both relatable, yet not so likable (good development), a product of the city from where they hail, big city, big egos, big messes, big falls. I liked her three-pete of certain words that not only drove home a point, but at times exemplified the meaning to the absurdity of the point toward its negation.

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UGH. it was painful to listen to the very end.

Really painful to listen to the end. A really F'd up family. Anything redeeming about it????? NO. What happened to Eleanor, she was supposed to be a mother. Awful...........

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Mixed

The story had potential. Perhaps that was the reason that I was disappointed with this novel. First and foremost, I cannot abide by the protagonist, Cass. Of course, she's pretty and smart, a man magnet. Why can a protagonist not be described with all the usual physical attributes (long, lush auburn hair, big bosoms, thin, tall)? Superficial, but maybe that was the point? The novel appears to be a critique on the rich/wealthy, almost an unintentional parody. I wish the author had focused on the main point of the book---the crime, the victim, the accused---and not the insipid, not-really-smart shallow Cass. I haven't finished this one yet, I'm trying to stick it out because I've bailed on way too many disappointing listens lately. My hope is that Cass, not her odd (good looking "brother"), ends up in the clink.

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Good book!

Took a bit to get into it but overall it was a great book and sad story. Worth the read for sure!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-02-22

Disturbing Storytelling

story line started off slowly but after that what an eye opening revealing disturbing story.