Pinterest tracking pixel
If you are having difficulty navigating this website please contact us at or 1-877-236-8540.
Oops! The page didn’t load right. Please refresh and try again.
All booksContemporary fictionWhen We Were Bright and Beautiful
When We Were Bright and Beautiful by Jillian Medoff
Contemporary fiction

When We Were Bright and Beautiful

by Jillian Medoff

Quick take

In this gripping story set in the shadows of New York’s elite, one family begins to unravel in the wake of scandal.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_FamilyDrama

    Family drama

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_LegalThriller

    Legal thriller

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Unsettling


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Nyc


Why I love it

Aimee Molloy
Author, Goodnight Beautiful

One of a novelist’s most difficult—and rarest—achievements is to write a book so richly layered it spans multiple genres. When We Were Bright and Beautiful, the fifth novel by the uber-talented Jillian Medoff is just that.

Is it a family saga? A courtroom drama? A domestic thriller with a gasp-inducing twist that will make you question everything you just read? Yes, yes, and yes.

The novel is structured around the criminal trial of Billy Quinn, a star athlete at Princeton accused of rape by an ex-girlfriend. But the story really belongs to Cassie, Billy’s older sister, who serves as narrator. Twenty-three years old and whip-smart, Cassie rushes to join her family in defending her brother. She controls this story, telling us only what she wants us to know, from the details of the investigation to the courtroom theatrics that grab the public’s attention, to the darker side of the Quinn’s glittering and glamorous life on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. But Cassie is hiding a secret of her own—for years she’s been involved with a married older man. The revelation not only increases the stakes, but it’s where the book’s cumulative power and purpose reside.

When We Were Bright and Beautiful 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.

Read less


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?

Read less


Get an early look from the first pages of When We Were Bright and Beautiful.

Read a sample →

Member thoughts

All (17094)
All (17094)
Love (4934)
Like (9302)
Dislike (2858)
17390 ratings
  • 28% Love
  • 53% Like
  • 16% Dislike
    Contemporary fiction
    • Once There Were Wolves
    • The Bad Muslim Discount
    • Black Cake
    • What Comes After
    • Olga Dies Dreaming
    • The Unraveling of Cassidy Holmes
    • How Lucky
    • Last Summer at the Golden Hotel
    • Monster in the Middle
    • Nine Perfect Strangers
    • My Dark Vanessa
    • The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany
    • The Girl with Stars in Her Eyes
    • Honey Girl
    • In Every Mirror She's Black
    • Beautiful World, Where Are You
    • Yinka, Where Is Your Huzband?
    • Sankofa
    • The Unsinkable Greta James
    • The Verifiers
    • One Italian Summer
    • The Love of My Life
    • Modern Lovers
    • Behold the Dreamers
    • The Mothers
    • All the Ugly and Wonderful Things
    • Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk
    • The Identicals
    • Little Fires Everywhere
    • Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
    • The Music Shop
    • Winter in Paradise
    • A Woman Is No Man
    • Queenie
    • Where'd You Go, Bernadette?
    • Beyond the Point
    • The Reckless Oath We Made
    • What Happens in Paradise
    • Dear Edward
    • When We Were Vikings
    • The Girl with the Louding Voice
    • A Good Neighborhood
    • Big Summer
    • All Adults Here
    • Happy & You Know It
    • Friends and Strangers
    • The Comeback
    • True Story
    • The Last Story of Mina Lee
    • Anxious People
    • Ties That Tether
    • Troubles in Paradise
    • White Ivy
    • This Close to Okay
    • The Chicken Sisters
    • The Removed
    • The Prophets
    • The Kindest Lie
    • In a Book Club Far Away
    • Good Company
    • Impostor Syndrome
    • The Other Black Girl
    • Apples Never Fall
    • A Quiet Life
    • We Are the Light
    • The Most Likely Club
    • The Fortunes of Jaded Women
    • When We Were Bright and Beautiful
    • The Hotel Nantucket