Published by Delacorte Press on May 13, 2014
Source: Purchased: ebook
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.
This was one of my most anticipated releases of this spring, and it did not disappoint. It took me about 3 hours to devour it, spread over two days.
A brief note – the book is being really pushed as a must read of the summer with a major twist at the end. And it really does achieve this – I figured out the twist at about 60%, but mostly because I was looking for it.
Which leads me to a bit of a complaint. Being told that the book has a twist makes the reader suspicious, which, to some degree, detracts from the twistiness of the twist. If we know that things are probably not as they seem, as readers, do we hold ourselves back from suspending our disbelief because we’re waiting for the author to smack us for being gullible? I think I do. I loved this book. But I would have loved it more if I had been actually blindsided. When publishers market books in the way this one is marketed, or Gone Girl, I think it really does interfere with the reader experience.
I am only going to say a few more things about We Were Liars.
Set on a private island, among a vaguely Kennedy’esque family, the Sinclairs, We Were Liars has a dreamy quality to it. The four main characters, Cady (Cadence), Johnny, Mirren, and Gatwick, are the three eldest Sinclair children by the three daughters of the patriarch. Gatwick is the fourth wheel, unconnected by blood, the nephew of Ed, who is involved with, although not married to, Carrie, the mother of Johnny. These four spend summers together, rarely communicating when they are not on the island. Their relationships are both intimate and distant. The book is told in a first person narrative, by Cadence Sinclair.
My family is, thankfully, nothing like the Sinclairs. They are wealthy, the three daughters are living off of their rapidly diminishing trust funds, and the family patriarch is gaining altogether too much enjoyment from making the girls perform for him like trained seals in an effort to gain the upperhand in the race to the inheritance. The family is, in a word, appalling. Shallow, materialistic, self-absorbed, entitled.
My mother and her sisters were dependent on Granddad and his money. They had the best educations, a thousand chances, a thousand connections, and still they’d ended up unable to support themselves. None of them did anything useful in the world. Nothing necessary. Nothing brave. They were still little girls, trying to get in good with Daddy. He was their bread and butter, their cream and honey, too.
The young people are more appealing. Less corrupted. We have Mirren, who is “sugar, curiosity and rain.” Johnny, who is “bounce, effort and snark.” Gat was “contemplation and enthusiasm. Ambition and strong coffee.”
And we have Cady, who is broken.
There are people who will love the way this book was written, with gorgeous language and metaphors, carefully constructed, the underpinnings easily viewed from the end, like a piece of architecture that is designed with glass and beam, to enable people to see the elegance of the physics holding it up. There are people who will find it contrived and annoying, a gimmick in search of a story.
I am the former. I loved it.
As for the ending, I’ll never tell. Read it for yourself.
All images borrowed courtesy of E. Lockhart’s tumblr, which can be found here
This book qualifies as Massachusetts for my USA by the book challenge.