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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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The writing is good-it's different, choppy and the chapters are generally short. This style accompanies the narrator's plot line though, and I didn't find it difficult to read. There are quite a few things that are confusing throughout the book-which end up making sense in the end. I was not expecting the ending. At all. It definitely tugged at my heart.
1) “I love this book! It’s so good! Oh my god!"
2) “I detest everything about this book. Why is it getting so much praise?”
So, me being me, I eliminated all expectations. I mean, the synopsis doesn’t give you much information to begin with, but I still wanted to be as open as possible. The end result? In short, We Were Liars is an intriguing novel that engaged me early on, kept me interested the entire time, and had me genuinely surprised at the end. The downside is the writing is a bit odd, which doesn’t seem like it would be a huge deal, but it did detract from my enjoyment of the novel as a whole.
We Were Liars follows young Cadence, who is part of a wealthy family known as the Sinclairs. Her story takes place shortly after a terrible accident during Summer Fifteen, where she suffered something traumatic--so traumatic, in fact, that she has no recollection of what happened. So, it is her goal, and ours, to pick up the pieces and find out what happened that night, because the doctors feel she needs to come to the realization on her own.
The problem I can see some people having with this novel is that none of the characters are relatable if you are not wealthy yourself, except for Gat, who is Cadence’s love interest. However, if I am being completely honest, where a novel like Don’t Try To Find Me treats the “problems” of its wealthy protagonists as real issues, We Were Liars goes out of its way to mock them, which makes most of their petty squabbles seem less problematic and more of what they are: greedy people acting selfish. In doing so, it helped avoid the frustration I would have normally felt reading about a group of people like the Sinclairs.
Instead, it focuses on Cadence’s real health issues, which can essentially be boiled down to migraines, but these migraines are so bad that it leaves her nauseous and unable to move. If you don’t have a family member who suffers with something similar, it is easy to pass this off as her being over-dramatic, but it’s not. This is not to say Cadence doesn’t go a bit overboard on occasion, however, which is made clear very early on with this wonderful mind-f***:
"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,
This bizarre excerpt is the perfect example of what is wrong with the novel on a technical level: Lockhart’s writing is an entirely different level of weird. For starters, there is no indication that the above text is metaphorical until you read the next couple of paragraphs. It’s just Cadence being Cadence, which resulted in a loud expletive on my end. Also, if you hadn’t noticed, Lockhart has
A weird tendency
To do this
For seemingly no reason
Again, not a huge issue, but it is kind of an eyesore, and there is never any explanation for why the structure randomly switches up in the middle of a page. Lastly, and probably my biggest gripe personally, throughout the novel the story switches from present day to Summer Fifteen, but the reader is never given a sign of when a switch is made. This occasionally resulted in me reading one, two, or sometimes three of these “chapters” before I realized that we had changed years. So for a novel that generally succeeded in pulling me in, it really tried its best to simultaneously pull me out.
With that note, I don’t feel I have much else to say except to try and brush-off some of the pretentiousness as rich white teenagers trying to be deep. Yes, it can get a little corny sometimes, but this is technically YA, so I think it’s safe to say that it kind of comes with the territory. In any case, as the reviews indicate, We Were Liars is definitely not for everyone—no book is, honestly—but there is something about its story that enamored me, and although there are a handful of flaws with how the book is actually written, I couldn’t put it down.
I've heard of this book all over YouTube & ive seen it on bookstagram & I don't think it lives up to its hype. The story line was okay & it had its moments where it got kind of annoying. It's categorized as a thriller but I don't think of it as a thriller maybe more mystery if so. I wasn't that excited to find out what happened in the end more anxious lol but then when I did I was whatever about it. I guess because the book isn't really relatable I didn't enjoy it as much as i could. I wouldn't read it again or probably even reccomend it to a friend but if you're looking for something quick and easy to read this is your match.
I've heard so many mixed reviews about We Were Liars over the years, but I hadn't read it, and I'm not sure why. It's weird, because it seems like most readers either love it or hate it - there aren't too many who seem to be in the middle. When I heard that the deluxe edition of the book was coming out, I figured I probably should get around to it already, because pretty much every other blogger and YA book fan I know has already read this one.
So I read it. It was a pretty quick read, and I read it all in one night - I started it like at 11 at night and finished it around 2 am I guess. While the overall story wasn't bad, I wasn't blown away by anything and I kind of felt it was lackluster, and for the most part I was left with more questions than I had before I even started the book.
In We Were Liars, we have four privileged and spoiled kids who spend their summers on a private island together. The four of them are pretty good friends, as well as cousins - all except for Gat. These kids have the whole island to swim, hang out, go to dinners - pretty much anything they want - all while spending the summers with their families and grandfather, who more or less owns the entire island.
But the kids in the Sinclair family, as well as Gat, have secrets - and they aren't pretty secrets. They've done things that they aren't proud of. Things that have some serious repercussions. In fact, the adults on the island have taken to calling them "The Liars."
During the stuff that's going on with the kids, the adults have their own things to worry about - including who gets the homes on the island, who gets what in terms of money - all of that jazz. Since their grandfather is getting older, he is trying to remodel and make sure that the homes go to the right children in the family.
I don't mean to be vague when I talk about this book, but I really don't want to give away any hints or anything that could make the story less enjoyable for those who haven't yet read it (although I doubt that there are too many!). It does have it's moments where I think it's a great and creative story, and I do so love reading about spoiled rich kids (guilty pleasure when it comes to reading!), so for the most part, I did enjoy it.
But there was so much here that I am going to be picky about - things that I didn't enjoy. For one, the characters weren't very fleshed out and I feel like they weren't very memorable - in fact, I honestly can't remember their names or who each was in the family. I can only remember Gat because he wasn't actually part of the family, but he was the son of the guy that one of the adults wanted to marry, but wouldn't because she was afraid her grandfather would disinherit her.
Also, that twist of an ending was clever, but I honestly saw it coming, and can't say that it made much sense, especially if you go back into the book and think about things. It made everything even more confusing instead of answering any questions that I had. It did tie the original story together, though, but some of the details bothered me, and I won't even get into them because this is supposed to be a spoiler free review.
I did love the whole idea behind the family spending time on the private island, though - it really makes this the perfect book for summer, as that's when it takes place - over the course of a summer and through memories of past summers. It made for the perfect read for a beach trip or vacation.
As far as the deluxe edition material went, I loved the hand drawn map of the island, and the family tree was a great addition - I found myself looking at both of these while reading the book, and it helped me paint a better picture of what was going on where and which characters were related and how. These were awesome additions to the book. Also, the author material in the back was interesting as well, and it added a bit to the reading experience. I definitely have to recommend picking up the deluxe edition of the book for these things alone - they really do enrich the reading experience and they're pretty nifty.
I wish I could have absolutely loved this book, but I just didn't - I did like it, just not enough to praise it as much as some others who have really enjoyed the book. It was definitely interesting, and I'll probably end up reading it again, but I just wasn't able to really connect with it as much as I would have liked to have been able to.
Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review - Thank you!