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We Were Liars Hardcover – May 13, 2014
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An Amazon Best Young Adult Book of the Month, May 2014: E. Lockhart’s novel, We Were Liars, is clever, alluring, and wildly addictive. Each summer the wealthy, seemingly perfect, members of the Sinclair family gather on their private island. We Were Liars is the story of those annual reunions; in particular what happened during a summer that protagonist Cadence is unable to remember. Prejudice, greed, and shifting patriarchal favoritism among the three adult sisters contrasts with the camaraderie and worldview of the teenage cousins and their dear friend Gat. Lazy days of sticky lemonades on the roof and marathon Scrabble games give way to twisty suspense, true love, and good intentions gone horribly wrong. We Were Liars is a story that begs to be read in one sitting. --Seira Wilson
From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Cadence Sinclair Easton comes from an old-money family, headed by a patriarch who owns a private island off of Cape Cod. Each summer, the extended family gathers at the various houses on the island, and Cadence, her cousins Johnny and Mirren, and friend Gat (the four "Liars"), have been inseparable since age eight. During their fifteenth summer however, Cadence suffers a mysterious accident. She spends the next two years—and the course of the book—in a haze of amnesia, debilitating migraines, and painkillers, trying to piece together just what happened. Lockhart writes in a somewhat sparse style filled with metaphor and jumps from past to present and back again—rather fitting for a main character struggling with a sudden and unexplainable life change. The story, while lightly touching on issues of class and race, more fully focuses on dysfunctional family drama, a heart-wrenching romance between Cadence and Gat, and, ultimately, the suspense of what happened during that fateful summer. The ending is a stunner that will haunt readers for a long time to come.—Jenny Berggren, formerly at New York Public Library
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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.
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.
I'm not a particularly impassioned reader, but there were a fair number of "are you effing kidding mes" that popped out of my mouth while listening. And do you know how marketers would pervert that to serve their own needs? They'd call it "provocative." Blech. There's our liars. In case you were wondering where all the lying liars who lie are (really, though, why the hell do they call themselves “the Liars”? I don’t get it), look no further than this book's exquisitely talented marketing and publicity team. Bravo. Give these people the award or something. Bonuses all around.
I’ll stop skirting around the actual topic here, which is this dreadful, boring, plotless turd of a book. It really is, without wit or cleverness, a story about rich people feeling sorry for themselves. Lots of selfishness, mixed with self-pity, and self-righteousness, and a generous splash of self-selfselfself. Which actually wouldn’t be such an issue if the characters were at all interesting. But this book is trying so hard to be what it wants you to think it is and I just did not buy it (an example of me buying it would be The Secret History. And I only mention it in the same breathe as We Were Liars because it’s about rich people behaving badly, a theme which I love so much I create a shelf for it on Goodreads. Clearly, I have no problem reading about richies when it’s done right). Lockhart makes sure to regularly mention, in case you ever happen to forget that you’re reading a book about privileged white people, how large the summer homes are, how expensive all the stuff they own is, how they wipe their bums with cash and then have their landscapers shred it up and use it as fertilizer for their sprawling grounds…
The funny thing is, it didn't even feel like Lockhart got it right. I've always been under the impression that people who are actually disgustingly wealthy don't talk about money, because it's crass. But that's all they did talk about. Subtly isn't Lockhart' s mo. She'd much rather have her protagonist tell you how it is. 'We are the Sinclairs. We are self-important and own an island. We are good-looking. We are bitter. We are a little racist. We are the 1%. But like, it's not glamorous okay? That's why I'm telling you this story, to unglamorize the glamour. So stop wondering about my unfascinating, unglamorous family ok? I'm going to talk about myself and my family this whole time but, like, don't think that we're special or interesting or anything. I'm going to make it sound like an exciting, terrible soap opera plot, but it's not an exciting, terrible soap opera plot...'
Welcome to the tone of this book.
I don't feel like coming up with a more eloquent way to say this: I hated the narrator. I hated everything she was: boring, dull, boring, no personality, stupid, boring. I thought reading a story from the perspective of someone with amnesia would be, as promised, suspenseful and full of intrigue, but she’s clueless. She does very little and she’s clueless. When she's finally not clueless, the extent of her reaction is, 'Oh no! Oh no! Oh nooooo!!! TRAGEDY!! Oh I'm crying so much right now.' I realize if you haven't read this yet (Go, save yourself! There's still time!) that this might sound insensitive of me, but all you really need to know is that this "tragedy" is brought on by absolute, Grade A stupidity. And really I think you could have a nice jaunty debate about whether something that's the direct result of stupidity--something that could've EASILY been prevented--is all that tragic. (Romeo and Juliet anyone? The "tragedy" is they're too stupid to live. Boo friggity hoo).
Which reminds me. Can authors please stop comparing their own novels to classics? Because all they do is take like one element of an extremely complex story and beat it to death.'Gatwick is Indian and Grandfather doesn't like him, so, you know, he's like Heathcliff, okay?' No. Just no. You're making the racial issue superficial so no. Please just stop.
And raise your hand if you're sick of fairy tales and authors who use fairy tales as an inspiration for their books. 'Once upon a time there was a king who had three daughters and'-- oh wait are you going to tell me how life isn't a fairy tale? Or maybe you're going with the whole hey-there-did-you-know-fairy-tales-are-actually-pretty-gruesome? We know. Everyone knows. Disney is a bunch of lying liars who lie too. Someone in publishing told me the fairy tale trend was on it’s way out in 2012, so why the hell is it still a thing? I guess it’s not on it’s way out. I guess we have to beat this to death too.
Ugh this book makes me cranky.