“We are liars. We are beautiful and privileged. We are cracked and broken.” – E. Lockhart
If you haven’t read this book in the two years since it was published, I highly recommend doing so. Despite it not being my usual “type” of book, I picked this little read up based on reviews and hype alone. I was not disappointed. From the beginning, the reader is drawn into a complex, twisted tale they just know is hiding more below the surface. Lockhart dangles the punch-line just out of reach, tantalizing the reader to keep reading, more and more and more, until the book wraps up with a twist reminiscent of Life of Pi.
A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends – the Liars – whse friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel that keeps the reader hooked from the first page to the last, begging to know what exactly the Liars did in Summer Fifteen that damaged Cadence’s mind and forever changed the Sinclair family. Between crippling headaches and her confusion, Cadence tries to remember. The Liars won’t tell her. The other Sinclair’s won’t tell her. And Cadence seems unable to unlock the secrets trapped within her own mind; the horrifying truth that once remembered, could potentially shatter her mind, or free her.
In this masterful piece of writing, Lockhart builds characters that you love, characters you love to hate, and a plot so thick with lies, deceit and treachery that you hardly know what to believe. After all, everyone in the Sinclair family is a Liar in their own right, not just the four Liars. There’s no way the reader was riddling out the answer to what happened in Summer Fifteen, and that’s just the way Lockhart wanted it, I expect. What truly happened in Summer Fifteen is both shocking and twisted, forcing the reader to go back a re-read the book, questioning each innocent moment for clues to the stunning conclusion. And no, don’t ask me what happened, because I’ll just lie.
Some things I loved about this book:
- The writing style, which was a mix of traditional writing, prose and re-telling was both beautiful and equally mysterious. This style suited the story perfectly, contributing to the mystique of the story. This patchwork of styles; perhaps patchwork is a bad word, as they blended seamlessly together; also very much contributed to the construction of Cadence’s mind as a fragile, broken place.
- The twisting, complex relationship between Cadence, Johnny, Mirren and Gat – the Liars, as they were so dubbed by the other Sinclairs. Despite the fact that Lockhart introduced a plethora of characters (essentially the whole Sinclair family) in only a couple pages, her construction of the Liars was well done. They felt unique, and complex, with their own personalities.
- The story itself. I’m not going to reveal anything here, so don’t worry, but I can’t ignore how beautiful the story of this book was. Lockhart did a masterful job of creating a rich, colourful plot, in addition to fleshing out Cadence’s mental illness quite well. Complex in nature, and perhaps slightly metaphorical, it was masterfully written and altogether heart-wrenching.
Some things I didn’t love:
- The rest of the characters didn’t matter much. They were all just a side story to the actions of the Liars, and to Cadence’s deteriorating mental state. The reader is simply told about how the other characters have problems, told about their flaws, but never really gets to know them very well, leaving the reader somewhat disjointed from the plight of the Liars.
Overall, I loved this book. Since I first read it in 2014, I’ve read it several more times, and each time, I am just as engrossed and in love with it as I was the first time. The story is beautiful and masterfully written, each page is meaningful, and the characters unforgettable. So, if you’re looking for a good summer read, be sure the add We Were Liars to your list. And remember, if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.