Genre: YA Realistic Fiction / Mystery
Pub. Date: May 13, 2014
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Goodreads says, "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. True love. The truth. We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart. Read it. And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE."Cadence's family is well off; in fact, her grandfather own a private island off of Cape Cod. Her family goes there every summer and she has a blast with her cousins, Mirren, Johnny, and their friend Gat. During her fifteenth summer, everything changes though. She is involved in an accident and suffers a major head injury which results in her experiencing crippling migraines and amnesia. Cadence, or Cady, can't remember what happened during her fifteenth summer or the details of her accident. Two summers later, Cady heads back to the island, but no one will seem to clue her in either. This is because Cady's mother has warned everyone that the doctors want Cady to remember the details on her own. Cady is desperately trying to figure out what happened and slowly pieces are coming back to her. Once Cady finds out the truth, it will shock her to the core. E. Lockhart's We Were Liars is a suspenseful psychological thriller that at first, I didn't love, but once Cady started figuring things out, I was desperate to know what on earth happened.
Cady is a good example of old money and living a privileged life style in We Were Liars. Everything seems fancy and beautiful from the outside, but when you peer in closely, you can see all the cracks in the foundation. For starters, Cady is a mess both physically and mentally. Her mother spends most of her time on the island drinking too much wine, fighting with her sisters and trying to gain her father's approval with the hopes that she'll be remembered more than her sisters in his will. Cady's mother is a helicopter mom, directing every move Cady makes and nagging her to take her meds, eat dinner, go talk to Grandfather, etc. So, needless to say, I felt badly for Cady and her situation (hello, hovering mother and selective amnesia). But on the other hand, Cady kind of drove me nuts, because after a few chapters I realized, she is an unreliable narrator (Edgar Allan Poe style) and she can't be trusted one bit. The more I read, the more I questioned Cady's reality.
Lockhart does a brilliant job capturing an idyll. You can tell that Cady loves spending time on her grandfather's private island and spending summer with her cousins and extended family. However, the beautiful setting was juxtaposed by the dynamic between the family members and the grandfather being manipulative. He was pretty much playing a metaphorical game of chess with each person on the island! Obviously, the family secrets and what happened to Cady is what kept me glued to the second half of We Were Liars. Surprisingly, this novel examines familial relationships and how some families are truly dysfunctional.
What I struggled with regarding We Were Liars was the fact that I couldn't really get to know Cady or the other characters. Lockhart's writing is brilliant, but because Cady was an unreliable narrator, I just felt like I was witnessing Cady's life and not really a part of it, if that makes sense. I didn't connect with any character or truly FEEL for Cady; I felt really disconnected and an observer in We Were Liars.
There's a TON of hype for this novel and I mean John Green blurbed it, which says a lot. But I think this one has been overhyped a bit in my humble opinion. Is it good? Yes, I was entertained. Is the writing brilliant? Yes. Are there many plot twists and unexpected events? Yes. We Were Liars is a haunting tale and one that is completely original. Did it wow the heck out of me and change my life forever? No, but it was a great way to spend the afternoon. So, if you like your beach reads to be a bit darker and more psychological, then check out We Were Liars this summer.