This is not the type of book you are expecting. But don't judge or stop reading till the very end. I promise you, it will be far beyond worth it. Expect feelings. All the feelings. Every single one. And expect LIES. Be ready to be mind-blown and to have infinite emotions all bubbling up at once.
I will LIE too, as to not spoil your reading. This is a book about a girl, about friendship, about summer. It's a book about money and a wealthy family. It's a book about values and about pretending. It's a book about LIES, those that we tell others and the ones that we tell ourselves. The LIES that are exposed and also, the hidden lies.
Brilliantly poetic writing brings to life this amazing jaw-dropping suspense story that is nothing like anything I've read from E. Lockhart before or like anything I had ever read before, period. A perfectly plotted psychological tale that will leave you astonished. Twisty, so very twisty, and so unbelievably gut-wrenching and beautiful. The mystery of it, everything surrounding the mystery, was done stunningly.
It's a book you'll NEED to read again right after you finish it. And you'll enjoy it twice as much the second time around. You'll be awed that you did not see this coming. Sigh. I wish books like this one came around more often.
Count me among those who were immediately involved in E. Lockhart's "We Were Liars." Readers both young and old will be captivated by the characters and the superb writing, which combines everyday life with a hint of magical realism.
As other reviewers have noted, the plot revolves around the Sinclair family. When you imagine this family, think of a cross between the Kennedy clan and a Ralph Lauren print ad in an upscale magazine. This is an old money family, with more than its share of secrets, prejudices, rituals, and customs. The patriarch of the family owns an island off the coast of Massachusetts, to which his three daughters and their families come each summer for a golden idyll in a magical place. At least, this is the way it is supposed to be, but that is a lie, and it is just the beginning of lies.
Now think of King Lear, and you will have an idea of the sort of father this patriarch is. The daughters are not exact parallels to Lear's daughters, but there are enough resemblances to keep the reader interested. The focus of the book is on the next generation, the children of the three daughters (and their friend, a contrast both in culture and social status).
I hope no one reviewing this book has revealed the plot in too much detail. You will have to trust me when I say you will not see the final plot twist coming, though when you re-read the book (as you will feel compelled to do), you will see all manner of foreshadowing and hints. This book is an examination of the lies we tell ourselves and each other to live harmoniously on the surface of our world, and the price those lies exact. I am recommending this book to all my reader friends, and I will be sharing it with my nieces, who I am confident will love it.
A final note on style: You will occasionally encounter a disconcerting narration that seems at first literal, but is in fact magical realism. For example, when Cady Sinclair Eastman, the 15-year-old narrator of the book, is recounting her parents' divorce, she describes her father packing his things into his Mercedes. Then you read this: "Then he pulled out a handgun and shot me in the chest. I was standing on the lawn and I fell. The bullet hole opened wide and my heart rolled out of my rib cage and down into a flower bed. Blood gushed rhythmically from my open wound,
then from my eyes,
It tasted like salt and failure. The bright red shame of being unloved soaked the grass in front of our house, the bricks of the path, the steps to the porch. My heart spasmed among the peonies like a trout.
Mummy snapped. She said to get hold of myself."
My first thought upon reading this was that Cady's father had lost control and actually shot her. The mother's comment makes clear, however, that this passage is a poetic description of how devastated Cady was at her parents' separation. This sort of thing happens throughout the book, and I came to enjoy the poetic imagery. Just don't take these passages literally.
I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did. Highly recommended.
on June 24, 2014
I was warned.
Now, YOU are warned.
I'm a librarian and this book brings out everything I strive not to be. I'll have to hand this over, quietly, without judgment.
Dozens of people will be asking for this because of the cutesy marketing (LIE about the ending, wink wink!) and whiny, self-absorbed characters that tap into our martyr syndrome and the simultaneous escapism (they are as rich as the Kennedys but no paparazzi! perfect life) and "surprise" ending that didn't surprise me, except in that how could "bright" people not understand how fire works? My job will be to hand it over without saying, "Pick anything, Lurlene McDaniel, anything--I don't care, walk blindfolded down through the stacks and you'll find something better," or "If you are gullible enough to be surprised by this ending, do you invest a lot in Nigeria?"
The writing style, which changes
For no reason,
and the unreliable narrator's voice,
That of a moderately bright twelve year old
Rather than a smart eighteen year old.
on August 5, 2014
What did I just read?
I spent half my time reading this with my brow furrowed and a grimace on my face because, honestly, what teenager speaks like that? Like, is that how WASPs speak? "Oh Mummy. Oh Mummy. And my dear Gat! And those naughty dogs."
All of the character development was delivered via straight shot. All tell, no show. All the time. All the freaking time. I found Cadence to be just insufferable, and no matter how many times she said she loved Gat I just didn't buy it. I'm sorry, but it's true. She honestly just reminded me of a rich girl who dates some ethnic guy because people don't expect it.
And let's talk about that for a hot second: if grandad doesn't like Gat and if literally everyone thinks, "Hm, yeah, Gat's not really one of us (#vineyardvines #harvard #blonde)," then why is he even there? Oh yes, that's right, because Cady needs someone to kiss.
Also, Gat has like a half page of dialogue total, and the rest of the time you hear about him, he is manly-crying or Cady is describing his allegedly handsome face.
Oh, and I skipped the italicizes stories about princesses and dragons because they served no purpose. What's the point in making a metaphor if you're just going to very clearly explain it in context right before or right after?
Two stars because I really wanted to read it and it kept me hooked. I wouldn't recommend this, however.
on November 14, 2014
Have you ever read a book where the style was so beautiful but you could never connect with the characters? Their emotions had absolutely no effect on you? That you were intrigued on figuring out the mystery but didn’t care if it had any ramifications? That everyone else loved it but you’re left thinking what’s wrong with me since I didn’t? Well, that’s where I am. It saddens me that I didn’t fall in love this book. Mostly because I loved the words, the descriptions, and the way the story flowed. E Lockhart’s writing style was unlike anything I have ever read before and I did truly enjoy this type of writing. That said, it doesn’t outweigh that I only enjoyed small parts here and there, that I could never bond with the characters and that even when I figured out what was going on I couldn’t force any emotion out. I have never felt so heartless before.
Every year the Sinclair’s spend their summer on their private island. They are blonde, they are beautiful, and they project a perfect life to the outside world. But inside the family, there is trouble. The sister’s fight, Grandpa tries to control situations and Cadence, Johnny, Mirren and Gat are called the Liars. But even in the midst of drama when they are on the island, the world around them tends to melt away. The Liars’ lives truly don’t exist to one another outside of the island but that doesn’t affect their friendship. So we spend our time learning how the family interacts and learning the ins and outs of what makes Cadence, her cousin Johnny, her cousin Mirren and her friend Gat tick.
This book is better left a mystery so I can’t say anything more about what happens except that once I slowly started putting the pieces of the puzzle together and had a good idea as to what happened my interest started waning even more. I am not a skimmer, but I wanted to skim ahead and see if my theory was correct. But I was too afraid that I would miss something important. Something that WOULD pull me back in. Something that WOULD make me feel completely immersed in the story. It never happened. BUT I know many people LOVED this book and it is a very unique read. So, to each is their own.
"Always do what you are afraid to do."
The Have-Nots always assume a life of privilege is easy, happy, carefree. Money buys happiness, right? Or does it lead to more problems? In e. lockhart's We Were Liars, a girl born into privilege experiences the last summer of her innocence, however feigned it may be.
Cadence is coming back Beechwood, her family's private island off the coast of Massachusetts, but this summer will be different from the previous summers. This summer isn't carefree. This summer won't be the same even with The Liars. This summer she is recovering. After her accident where she was found washed up on shore with no memory of what happened and the same night her grandfather's house on the island burned down. Now it has been rebuilt, and her aunts and their families are in their respective houses, and Cadence and her mother have returned to their house, Windmere. The problem is the island is haunted by something deeper and darker than just the burning of a house and a lifetime of memories. Something darker happened, but Cadence can't remember anything from that fateful night.
While her mother obsesses about what Cadence eats and her sleeping habits, Cadence is only interested in the Liars. While she was gone, recovering, she emailed them. Her cousins Johnny and Mirren and Johnny's "stepfather's" nephew, Gat, are the only ones who truly understand the life of a Sinclair. While Gat is technically still (and always will be) an outsider, his summers on the island over the year have given him an insight into their lives that no one else could understand. For Cadence, Gat is the one who could both understand where she comes from and take her away from it all in one fell swoop. Gat is different. But the truth of the night of Cadence's accident hangs over the Liars. As her memories become clearer, she gets closer to the truth and all the nightmares it contains.
They Were Liars, but most importantly, they couldn't lie to themselves. The Liars saw the darkness that lay within the privileged life on Beechwood, and it was controlling their lives. Their mother's and their family had suffered in ways that couldn't be quantified, yet there was an air that they didn't deserve the sympathy, which set the backdrop for this really amazing story. I have to admit that even I struggled for a bit with this wavering sense of pity and envy. You have everything! How could you want more?! But as you got closer and closer to the big twist, it was hard to even put the book down. The book was written in this beautiful, poetic, deep, flowing language that made me feel like I was a wave lapping at the shore of the island. It was quite the tumultuous ride to get to the end of this book because there was so much depth and bittersweet beauty, it was hard not to linger.
When you read this book, be prepared to get bowled over. It takes no hostages. Cadence is a deeply damaged girl who can't dig her way out of the carefully medicated oblivion her accident left her in, and the rest of the family is no better. I think I would give this book to those students who needed something to think about, something to ponder, because they will certainly find it in this novel. It is rich with emotion and devastation that can't be fully explained here, so go out and get a copy. You will understand what I am talking about!
on September 5, 2015
This book is awful, full of pedantic writing and unsympathetic characters . The reader is never told why they were "liars." YA can be so much better than this.
on September 21, 2015
I purchased this book for a class that I was taking, and really enjoyed the read. I am also a fan of Pretty Little Liars on Netflix, and there were lots of things about this book that reminded me of the series. Not that it is a big deal or anything, but for me...I found my mind wandering during the read because I have been watching the show for several seasons now. Overall, this was a really good book and it must have sunk in because I got an A on the exam!
Lockhart's new novel is the story of a privileged teen girl and her disturbingly dysfunctional family - divorced parents, wealthy grandfather, aunts squabbling over inheritance, and cousins. Each summer the family gathers on their private island in the Northeast where the cousins have grown up together. But now there is something very, very wrong. Our unreliable narrator gives us snippets of information - just enough for the reader to know that things are seriously messed up. Irresponsibility, entitlement, questionable morality....Lockhart's novel has it all, tied up with a big ol' twist at the end. So be very, very careful reading reviews on this book --- one misplaced spoiler will ruin the entire thing for you. I'm being very careful not to even give a whiff of the twist away, so forgive this review if it seems vague. I found the entire novel compelling enough to read it in one sitting....I truly did want to know what happened enough to keep turning the pages. Ultimately, I found myself a little disappointed in the "convenience" of the ending, but that's something you'll have to decide for yourself after you read it. So read it and then come back and leave a comment here and tell me what you thought. You'll be itching to talk about the book with someone (whether you love it or hate it) after you finish, that much I can assure you.
on July 6, 2015
I bought this book last summer after reading all the hype about how shocking the ending is and how readers just couldn't put it down. After reading Gone Girl I love the idea of unreliable narrators and characters that you just can't quite bring yourself to trust or believe, so this seemed like the perfect time to dive into a story about a group of teenagers with secrets surrounding their summers on a private family island. While the book definitely kept my attention and did have an ending that surprised me, I can't say that it quite lived up to the hype or shocked me as much as I was expecting.
My first impression of the Sinclairs, the family at the center of the novel, is that they are basically the Kennedy's: affluent, old-moneyed Democrats who own a private island off the coast of Martha's Vineyard and appear to all the world to have it all. Things are never as they seem, of course, and as the younger generation of the Sinclairs begin to grow up and realize their parents and grandparents are manipulative, money hungry and terribly flawed, they band together to form a group they call"the liars" and declare they will be different from their family. This sense of righteous indignation is made that much stronger by the presence of their friend, Gat, an outsider who spends his summers with the Sinclairs but the rest of the year in much more average surroundings. His passionate feelings towards their entitlement fuels these teenagers, especially our narrator, Cady, who falls head over heels in love with Gat. But something terrible happened the summer the liars were fifteen that caused Cady to lose her memory and it is only when she returns to the island a few summers later that the real history surrounding the Sinclairs and that fateful summer comes to light.
We Were Liars is a really quick read. I am not the fastest reader and I swallowed this one up in just two days. The author does a great job of keeping the story progressing as Cady attempts to remember what really happened that summer and piece together the strange behaviors of her family. I think my favorite part was just trying to figure out what parts of Cady's narrative were true and what was word play, Cady being a character that tells us from the beginning that she likes to twist the meaning of words. It was also really interesting to peek behind the curtain of this rich, entitled family and see all the cracks and dirty bits they were hiding. The in-fighting and greediness was just appalling and I could understand why the younger generation was trying to separate themselves from that manipulation and control.
The ending (which I won't give away as that seems to be a big draw of this story) was surprising but not really shocking. You have these people who went through a terrible ordeal and are trying - or not trying, depending on the person - to work through their grief and move on as best they can. It was definitely sad but I don't feel like it brought the story to any real resolution. Yes, the reader will know what happened that fateful summer by the end of the story, but at the heart nothing really has changed in the circumstances or opinions of the people we see at the end. They're just battered and scarred.
I believe this is classified as a YA novel and I think that designation is perfect for it. Teenagers reading it will really relate to the feelings and emotions of the characters, even if they don't have the same luxuries as the Sinclairs, and I think that more innocent and impetuous nature that comes with being young will make the ending that much more dramatic (while, for me, I kept thinking "you dumb kids, DON'T DO THAT!!). The actions of these characters have severe consequences and I appreciate the author showing those consequences without sugar coating it. That being said, I think the advanced hype just had me wishing for something else after I turned the last page.
Any reader looking for a good, quick summer read will be happy to pick up We Were Liars. It will definitely hold your attention for a few hours, just don't expect to gasp and shout at the end. For me, at least, the ending left me satisfied that I finally read the book, but not necessarily so drawn in that I feel the need to read it again.