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. Read it. And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.
I have heard lots and lots of chatter about We Were Liars since its release. Some of it praises the book, and some of it does the complete opposite. It seemed like folks were either on the “love it” or “hate it” side of the argument, so I was very curious to see where I would fall once I finally read the book myself. I do want to note right from the get-go that I listened to this book on audio, and – I think – that’s what made it work for me. The book is written in extremely short sentences, with an overabundance of purple prose, which worked in audio but probably would not have worked for me if I were reading a hardcopy. The narrative is kind of choppy as well, which makes sense since our point of view character is suffering from amnesia. This, of course, makes her rather unreliable as well, so there are definitely lots of things that could have gone wrong for me personally while I was reading. And yet, I found myself thoroughly engrossed in the story and wondering throughout what the “twist” would be at the end, because that is the one thing that pretty much everyone did agree on. In the end I’m extremely glad I read this book, because it turned out to be one of the better ones I’ve read in a while.
Because of the nature of this book, I can’t actually talk about too terribly much without spoiling some aspect of the story. I will say, though, that the Sinclair family made me angry and sad in equal turns. There’s a lot of racism in the book – namely from the grandfather – and it definitely colored my opinion of nearly everyone in the story. There’s also a lot of classism; this is a family that’s been raised with a silver spoon in their mouths, and none of them really have any clue how to function without the family money. Nonetheless, there were still portions of the book – particularly toward the end – that actually brought tears to my eyes. Emotional rollercoaster would probably be a good term to use here, because it definitely took me on an up and down ride.
There’s also a touch of forbidden love here, and while I couldn’t quite get behind it, it didn’t make it any less poignant, because that’s how teenage love actually feels. Mostly I just wanted Cadence to figure things out because I wanted to know what happened. There were lots of things pointing to the truth, but I didn’t put them together until it was actually figured out by Cady herself. Sometimes I pride myself on seeing things before they happen in books, but this was definitely one book that, in my opinion, worked simply because I DIDN’T figure it out. I don’t think the ending would have packed the same emotional punch if I had.
We Were Liars is definitely worth a read, mostly because it’s one of those that you can’t really know if you’ll like until you open it up and immerse yourself in the story. It won’t work for everyone, but for those it does work for, it will probably rank pretty darn high on your favorites list. Or at least that was the case for me!