A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.
The story in a nutshell:
Cady Sinclair’s family has always spent summers on Beechwood Island. But during Summer Fifteen, she was in an accident and she woke up not only wounded but with no memories at all of that fateful night. But come Summer Seventeen, despite her terrifying ordeals with pain, medicinal drugs, and a hovering mother, Cady comes back to Beechwood Island, ready (or not) to finally learn what had happened to her those months ago. Family secrets will be laid open and truth would finally find its way out of all the lies.
What worked for me?
What I particularly liked about this book are the various stories that it tries to convey to the readers amid an unreliable narrator’s point of view. Because Cady has selective amnesia, you get the sense that not everything she sees is what they seem. And yet, you know that there are more layers than whatever you’re seeing.
My favorites are the references to the fairy tales. Whenever the Sinclair family is compared to a kingdom in fairy tales, I just devour those parts. There is always that particular bite and sting of reality that creates the perfect imagery or metaphor. I love it.
There is this kind of haunting beauty to the horror of the lies in this story and while there were parts especially in the beginning that were dragging a bit, the mostly latter part somehow makes up for this, setting the truth free in a gripping pace.
What did not work for me?
I was not overly fond of the writing and narrative style of the book. These made it harder for me to connect with the story especially with the narrator, who’s the main character. I get that this is a case of the unreliable narrator and in some ways, this has a positive case on the whole story arc. But most of the time, there was just this feeling of disjoint, specifically between the book and me, as I was reading the book.
My over-all take on it?
I appreciate the overarching story that the author was telling and even some compelling questions that it has raised about the meaning of family, of sacrifice, of forgiveness. I personally did not see that twist in the end coming and when I read it, I was just floored. But I also really appreciated that aspect of the story even if sometimes, when I look back, I wish I could unread it.
*Actual rating is 3.75 stars but I just rounded it off. 🙂
About the Author:
I am the author of We Were Liars, Fly on the Wall, Dramarama, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks and the Ruby Oliver quartet: The Boyfriend List, The Boy Book, The Treasure Map of Boys, andReal Live Boyfriends. How to Be Badwas co-written with Lauren Myracle and Sarah Mlynowski.
Disreputable History was a Printz Award honor book, a finalist for the National Book Award, and recipient of the Cybils Award for best young adult novel. We Were Liars is a New York Times bestseller.
I have a doctorate in English literature from Columbia University and currently teach creative writing at Hamline University’s low-residency MFA program in Writing for Children.
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