Rating: 5/5 stars
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
It’s been a long time since I’ve read two books I’ve absolutely adored back to back. I read good books all the time, certainly, but it takes a lot for me to fall head over heels for a book. I discovered the book We Were Liars on twitter after a large majority of the authors and readers I follow were raving about it. I marked it to-read, and swept it under the rug – as what happens to a lot of my to-read novels. I stumbled back upon it as I was downloading books for vacation a few months later – and gosh, do I wish I dived into this novel sooner.
The novel opens with our four main characters, the Liars. Cady (our central character) is a part of the prestigious groups of Sinclars – a family who owns an island that they spend every summer on. She is the oldest grandchild, closely followed by two other Liars, Johnny and Mirren. The last member of the Liars is Gat. Gat is Johnny’s mom’s boyfriend’s nephew, who came along one summer and ended up spending every summer after. At the opening of the novel, it appears to be a love story between Cady and Gat.
Until Cady reaches summer fifteen and has a terrible accident that she cannot remember. Her cousins and fellow liars stop answering her emails, and her mother begins to shelter her. In fact, during summer sixteen, she goes on a trip with her father and spends her first summer ever without the Liars. All Cady can remember about the accident was the fact she ended up with half of her clothes off faced down in the ocean after hitting her head. And she doesn’t even really remember that. That’s just what they told her over and over as she asked what happened day after day.
Now she is left with terrible, constant migraines with no recollection of what happened. And when she finally goes back to the island with her family, her grandpa built a new house, and everyone is keeping secrets – even her little cousins.
The entire course of the novel is a journey to uncover what happened to Cady and why the rest of the Liars are acting so weird… and why is Gat acting so guilty when he kisses her? And why did Gat abandon her after her accident when he told her he loved her?
One thing that I enjoyed that most people did not was the writing style. (well, I am a little obsessed with prose.) Lockhart has short chapters that constantly skip around. It took me a while to figure out what time we were in during some of the flashback scenes, but otherwise, I found her style to be refreshing. In fact, in writing the way that she did, it packed a bigger punch when the events that occurred to Cady are finally revealed. It also seemed very true to Cady’s character who was very dramatic, though it may not be apparent until later in the novel.
Honestly, I applaud Lockhart for the genius that is this novel and its turn of events. I am probably the worst person in the whole world at suspense. I am notorious for reading the last page before reading a novel all the way through or wikipediaing what will happen in each episode of the TV show I am chain-watching to ‘prepare myself’. We Were Liars kept me so absorbed with the current events of the novel that I was not once tempted to flip to the end to see what happened. I was very glad I waited too. This novel slowly builds itself up without the reader really understanding until it reveals the shocking factor.
That’s the thing I think I like most about the novel. All too often, we read books and then jump to the next one without much thought about the first one. Most of the time, we read for enjoyment and the bigger lesson does not seem to be that big of a deal compared to the entertainment factor. Lockhart’s novel is the complete opposite. I finished the novel right before I intended on going to bed, and I ended up going to sleep two hours later than I planned because I was thinking about the impact the book made on me. A sign of a good novel is not just how one enjoys it while reading it, but the impact the readers carry with them. This novel caused me to think a lot about my own life and questions I had always quickly skimmed over.
I HIGHLY recommend this book to everyone. Not only was this a highly enjoyable read, I think it leaves readers with hard questions that we tend to neglect because they are too difficult to think about. Honestly, if you get the chance, read this novel and try to take with you the lessons Lockhart so beautifully expressed throughout the pages.