Book Review: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart3:07:00 PM
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Rating: ★★★★ 4/5 Stars
Synopsis (from Goodreads): 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.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.
Let me start by saying that this book was nothing I expected it to be. It's in the young adult contemporary genre, something I don’t often read, but this book was so highly recommended to me that I figured I would give it a shot. I have read E. Lockhart before, but it was a loooong time ago when I was just starting middle school. I was in my musical theatre geek phase, so I read Dramarama and absolutely adored it. Now, almost six years later here I am about to read another E. Lockhart book, barely remembering exactly what it was I loved about Dramarama as the haze of time left me next to no memory whatsoever of the book (save for a few snippets of jazz squares, gold lamé and theatre camp). I expected We Were Liars to be somewhat similar – a glittering display of the American Dream, all wrapped up in a candy-striped bow and handed to me neatly with some sweet tea on the side. Maybe it would have an air of mystery to it, the title made me think of Pretty Little Liars – I couldn’t help it. Boy, was I wrong.
A somewhat quick read at only about 225 pages, this is a story that is told in the details. Sometimes it felt more like poetry than your typical prose, and it’s quick witted and sharp. One page will transport you to summertime, toes in the sand and the cedar-y smell of a temporary home; the next, your heart will be breaking and breaking and breaking. It’s not a sad story, though. Quite the opposite, actually. The majority of this book brings about an overwhelming sense of contented nostalgia for things I can’t say I have ever really experienced, and to me it’s incredibly powerful when a book can do that; it shows the mark of an excellent author.
I find that I have trouble giving this book a proper synopsis without giving the whole story away, so I’ll do my best not to reveal too much while still being ambiguous enough. The story is about a girl named Cady and her cousins, who spend each summer with their family on a privately owned island in Martha’s Vineyard. Cady calls her little band of merry men the Liars, and the group is thick as thieves. Together, Cady, Johnny, Mirren, and Gat share everything from beach towels to their deepest secrets. The Sinclair family is beautiful, rich, and devious. Everyone wants their share of the family fortune after Grandma Tipper passes away – everyone except the Liars. They don’t understand their mothers’ quarrels over who gets to inherit the Christmas ornaments or antique china. They don’t understand why Grandpa – or anyone else for that matter – doesn’t want to talk about Cady’s accident and what happened during summer fifteen. It would seem that on Beechwood Island, nothing lasts forever and everything is permanent.
This book also had a massive twist ending that absolutely destroyed me. I sat there in total shock and awe for a good hour after finishing this book, and I spent the majority of the next day ruminating over the plot, it was that big. It was one of those endings that once you understand what happened, if you go back and read little things that stuck out subtly here and there throughout the book, everything else falls into place and they suddenly make sense.
I give this book 4 out of 5 stars because it was so incredibly well-written and such a beautiful piece, but I felt like something was missing. It was masterfully crafted to tell a knife-sharp story about the façade of Americana culture and the four kids who found themselves caught in the middle of it all. The reason I don’t give it that one last star is because it left me wanting more, more explanation, more details leading up to the big reveal and plot twist, more something I couldn’t quite put my finger on. This wonderful read was over much too soon.
But at the same time, that’s the beauty of this book.
***If you enjoyed this book review or have read this book, please take a second to check out the playlist I made for it! You can find it here, along with other book playlists I’ve made in the past. Happy reading!