Book Review: “We Were Liars”

By Rachel Pavelich

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The hit young adult novel, “We Were Liars,” written by E. Lockhart, was published just last year and has since become very popular. Voted the Best Young Adult Fiction Book of 2014 on Goodreads, this captivating novel definitely deserves this award and all of the attention that it has received by those who have read it.

Cadence Sinclair Eastman is a 17-year-old girl spending her summer on her grandfather’s private island off of the coast of Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts with her family. While there, Cady, as she goes by, is trying to reflect on the summer two years before, in which she experienced an accident that she cannot remember. She is left with amnesia, and while her mother has assured her that she’s told her the story several times since the incident, Cady seldom remembers and is told she must remember on her own, in her own time.

Throughout the story, with the help of her cousins, Johnny and Mirren, and their friend, Gat, who also happens to be Cady’s love interest, Cadence is slowly reminded of the events leading up to the accident two summers earlier.

Packed with flashbacks and memories from “summer fifteen,” as Cady refers to it, events from the present on the family island, and the fairytales that Cady writes, always including three princesses and a king to show the tense relationship between Cadence’s mother and her sisters to help advance the story, Cady experiences love, loss, sadness, and joy, and is reminded of the ever-ongoing competition within her family.

Living with her mother in one of the houses on the island, Cady’s aunts and her mom often dispute who will inherit what on the island when their father, Cadence’s grandfather, passes away. Rather than participating in the family’s feud over inheritance of the fortune, “the liars,” as they call themselves- Cady, Gat, Mirren, and Johnny- spend their summer days on the island down by the water planning for their futures. For Cady, her summer also consists of the relationship she’s in-which is disapproved of by her grandfather-but has her head over heels in love.

As the summer comes to an end and the plot continues to unfold, more details from the night of Cady’s accident are revealed and she is reminded of the events of the catastrophic day.

“No one is a criminal. No one is an addict. No one is a failure.” These are the first of many lies from the teenagers in the book. They add to the suspense and thrill of the tale, and make everyone aware that the family that seems so flawless from the outside are in no way perfect, as the liars know firsthand. With intentions to make everything right on the island and stop the ongoing fight for inheritance between the three bickering, counterproductive, alcoholic daughters of Cady’s grandfather, Harris Sinclair, who tends to egg on his daughters in the dispute, the liars have spent many hours strategizing their detailed plan.

While at first I was unsure of how I’d like this book when it was recommended to me, knowing nothing about it, I absolutely loved it once I’d finished it. This novel is full of mystery and excitement, and I, for one, did not want to put it down. It’s captivating, and the unique way that Lockhart draws you into the story keeps the reader very interested.

I feel that many readers can relate to this book and the ideas within it, such as having an imperfect life and flawed family, as the Sinclair family does. There’s teenage love and rejection, which pertains to many readers, along with the aspirations and hopes for the futures of the liars: another idea that the reader can connect to.

The novel will leave you with a jumble of mixed emotions and the messages of being kind and striving to become the best that you can. It is guaranteed to make you laugh, smile, cry, scream, and keep you on the edge of your seat as the thrill progresses and the plot speeds forward all leading up to an ending you’ll never see coming.