We Were Liars
By E. Lockhart
(Delacorte Press, Hardcover, 9780385741262, May 2014, 240pp.)
The Short of It:
Sometimes, the rich have it all. Most times, they don’t.
The Rest of It:
The Sinclairs. They seem to have it all. Money, power, looks and even a private island off of Martha’s Vineyard. Every summer they head to Beachwood to do whatever the rich do but it’s not all pretty. The adult sisters can’t help but squabble over what one seems to have over the other. The patriarch of the group, their father, seems to have his favorites, and the children, most in their teen years, are the only ones that seem to get along at all.
The story centers around the Liars, Cady (Cadence) and her cousins Johnny & Mirren and Gat, a friend of the family. For these kids, the summers are golden. Even with all of the family strife going on in the background, the summers they spend there are meaningful and wonderful, the way all summers should be at that age. But then, tragedy strikes. One day, Cady finds herself washed up on the beach. She’s sustained a head injury and can remember nothing in regards to how she got it, or what took place before the accident.
Two years pass as Cady is forced to recuperate away from the island. Two years of missing Beachwood. Two years without her cousins. When she returns. Everyone is secretive about what really happened. As bits and pieces of the events leading up to that day float back into her memory, she realizes that she’s forgotten all of it for a reason.
This book grew on me. At first, it seemed to halt along in a young adult kind of way. In that I mean, it seemed a little superficial on the surface but after spending some time with the characters, I found myself completely absorbed by the story. There are secrets of course, which makes this a page turner but the big twist that everyone talks about? Not such a big twist in my opinion. But, there is a lot going on here as far as class and social status.
The Sinclairs are THE stereotypical rich family. Gat, the family friend serves at the voice of reason. He’s a constant reminder that not everyone owns an island, that some people DO have to work to make a living. Cady falls in love with Gat, which further complicates things since her grandfather does not approve of him. So while the adult sisters drink and fight over material possessions, these teens have deep, meaningful conversations about life.
There is a bittersweet quality to the novel even before you get to the twist. That sense of lost youth as you transition into adulthood. Summers on the beach as a kid, are quite different from summers on the beach as an adult. You have a whole set of new worries and concerns and being rich doesn’t shield you from them. Lost innocence and how it’s captured here is what made the book for me.
There is a lot of hype for this book with some reviewers calling the ending “shocking” but if you go into it with an open mind, and just go with the flow, I think you will enjoy it. Bit if you go into it expecting to be shocked, you might be disappointed. Plus, there’s the mystery behind the title of the book too. The meaning of the title is not spelled out in so many words, but as the events unfold, that title means many things. One item of interest is how Cady lapses into fantastical tales to tell the story. Think fables and fairy tales. I found it to be an interesting device.
Have you read it? What did you think?
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23 thoughts on “Review: We Were Liars”
I didn’t think it was a huge twist either. A little over hyped. Still a great read though!
Books about the rich and privileged are always hit and miss for me… but this seems like it has a fun summer “getaway” feel.
None of these characters are likable, really. You feel for the main character to a degree, but everyone is a little detached. It did have a getaway feel though. Makes me want to own a beach house, one without all the baggage of course 😉
I read this a few weeks ago and had mixed feelings about it. I agree with you about the ‘twist’. Something about the middle section of the story felt a little slow for me for some reason but I thought overall the book was all right.
The slow part. The two years away from Beachwood. Zzzzz. I remember bring halfway through with it and thinking… man, what’s there to like but the end did bring it all together for me. Plus, I listened to the ending on audio so maybe that had something to do with it. She reader was great and that ending was heartbreaking to hear.
I don’t read much YA, but thought this was a great!
I don’t normally read teen books. However, this one appealed to me for some reason I don’t remember, now. However, I see it as an adult book. The writing was very, very good. But the story could be too much for a lot of kids. I sure hope no one gets any ideas from this. No bored teens. No troubled humans. Troubling story to say the least.
These days it’s hard to know if a book is being marketed as YA or not. I think sometimes publishers try to steer clear of the label so the book can appeal to a broader audience.
I haven’t read it yet but Julie told me I have to when I saw her at BEA. Going to vote for you now – I’ve been forgetting to do it. 😦
I thought it was good, not amazing. I had figured out the twist long before it was revealed.
I agree. The twist… how could that be a surprise to anyone? I thought the writing at the end knocked it out of the good category and put it into the pretty good category but not amazing. I agree.
I thought this book was going to be so much better than it really was – of course, I was listening to the hype (why do I do that!?). The ending was not shocking, more like predictable. I found the story to be rather lackluster in the end.
For me, the ending sort of brought it all together. Had something like that happened to me, I’m not sure how I’d get through such a thing. It would be almost too much. You know?
I am on the fence about this one. I’m curious about the mystery part, but am not so eager to spend time with the Sinclairs.
I have a thing for beach settings and lost innocence so it was totally my thing. It is a quick read and I am glad I read it.
I have the audio version so at some point I’ll give it a shot. Thanks for the “no spoilers”.
I haven’t read this one, but I’ve sort of stayed away because of the hype.
You are not one for hype. That I know! I like hyped up books if they pan out. I think this one was very good but I don’t see it as all that different from other books I’ve read before. I think good marketing played a role in the hype.
Read it…loved it…
I’m about to start reading this book! Another book to read is Dangerous Girls. It’s another mystery and has a really good plot twist!
This seems to be the book of the season. I’m hoping to read it but not too soon. But I need to remember what you said about the YA quality of the initial part of the book. If you meant YA-type sappiness or silliness, that always makes me put the book down. I’ll have to remember to persist.
Loved it! I liked the writing style more than the twist. 🙂
I didn’t find it all that shocking, but then I don’t read YA that much, I think. The different perspectives between kids and adults was interesting, but I felt let down by the title. I expected something bigger, or more bad, or really dysfunctional- and now that I read that, it gave me all that, but still wasn’t as powerful as I perceived from the title.