WE WERE LIARS by E. Lockhart



I don’t usually read YA fiction that everyone else is talking and blogging about, but I made an exception for We Were Liars by E. Lockhart because someone told me, “Read it. Don’t read about it, just read it.” I was intrigued by her advice, and requested it from the library. The fact that all copies were checked out and I had to wait until it came in only heightened my curiosity. It eventually came in, and I read it.

If you want to replicate my experience, and you’ve been curious about this “Gothic tale of failed romance in an entrenched East Coast family still enslaved to the rigid WASP codes”, then don’t read the rest of this review until you’ve read We Were Liars. (Then come back and tell me what you thought.)

If you want to know more before you commit to We Were Liars, then read on, but beware that it might spoil your experience a bit.

We Were Liars is about a privileged family with an island off of Martha’s Vineyard. Each summer, the patriarch of the family and his wife, along with their three daughters and a collection of grandchildren, come to the island and live in the four estates that have been built, one for each nuclear family. The story is told from the perspective of 15 year-old Cadence, the oldest grandchild. The “Liars” are two of Cadence’s cousins, Johnny and Mirren, and an Indian boy named Gat whose uncle is dating Johnny’s mother.

The Liars are thick as thieves each summer, and the book is rich with the smells and sounds of that epic season, when it seems that each sense is heightened not only by the weather and physical surroundings but also by adolescence and the sense that nothing is ever as important as when you are a teenager. There is a lot of commentary about the family, and the daughters’ infighting and currying favor with the rich grandfather, who controls the pursestrings and the inheritances. Gat serves as the Liars’ conscience: he is the one that points out that Cady never bothers to learn the names of the help and raises questions about income redistribution and the fundamental unfairness of property ownership.

Something happens during that fateful Summer Fifteen, however, when Cady finds herself in the ocean one night, barely dressed, with a head injury so severe that she leaves the island for the rest of the summer and doesn’t return for two years. What happened that night? Why was she on the beach by herself, and why can’t she remember anything about it? Why won’t her cousins and Gat (which whom she is in love) engage with her and fill her in on what they remember?

SPOILER ALERT.

Like fans of “The Crying Game” (she’s a guy!) and “The Sixth Sense” (he sees dead people!), people who have read We Were Liars will tell you not to tell anyone anything about it. Yes, there is a spoiler. I was pretty much on notice that there was going to be a spoiler, and I have to say, I didn’t find it too hard to figure out what it was. Unlike the people on Goodreads who are all, “OH MY GOD I DIDN’T SEE THAT COMING”, I saw it coming. So I was not as blown away by We Were Liars as I might have been, but I did like it. It’s a quick read and I enjoyed the dark and dramatic atmosphere that Lockhart created.  I gave it a solid 3 stars out of 5 on Goodreads.

Have you read it? Did you figure out the spoiler beforehand?

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6 Comments

  • July 9, 2014 - 1:18 pm | Permalink

    I haven’t written my review up yet but it’s percolating in my head right now.

    It was not surprising to me except I thought… and people if you haven’t read the book look away now…

    Look away…

    Okay.

    I thought SHE was dead, not the way it actually turned out. I read a wonderful review of it that nailed the feel of the book. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/11/books/review/we-were-liars-by-e-lockhart.html

    Because so much of the book’s success I think, rides on the feel of it. Not so much the twist because let’s face it, the twist was not all that surprising and I figured out something was up as soon as no one would tell her what happened.

    But the feel of it. I really enjoyed the beach setting and the feeling that these kids were invincible. I listened to part of it on audio and it was really good on audio.

  • July 9, 2014 - 3:27 pm | Permalink

    Julie keeps telling me I need to read this one. I better get with it!

  • Diane@BibliophilebytheSea
    July 10, 2014 - 7:18 am | Permalink

    I skipped the spoiler as I really want to read this one. So many have enjoyed it.

  • July 10, 2014 - 8:34 am | Permalink

    I skipped through the spoiler, too. My daughter listened to the audiobook and has just said that it’s haunting and kind of creepy. I just read ASTONISH ME, which I loved and SEATING ARRANGEMENTS which was well written but difficult. Shipstead is very good at writing characters that are unpleasant, which complicates the reading experience for me. SEATING ARRANGEMENTS just had too many ugly people for me. I’m on a list for this one at my library and looking forward to it.

  • July 11, 2014 - 8:34 pm | Permalink

    This one sounds interesting. I’m quite on the fence about it.

    2 Kids and Tired Books

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