books and reading · reviews

Book Review: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Cady Sinclair’s family is wealthy, and they intend to stay that way.  They reunite each summer on her grandfather’s private island.  There, his three daughters and their children–Cady’s cousins–live out a life that’s close to a fairy tale.  After a summer apart from her cousins, Cady returns once again to the island to sort out family secrets and come to terms with the darkest parts of their pasts.

The less readers know going into this story, the better.  Coming up with a summary that doesn’t spoil the book’s plot was one of the more difficult tasks this reviewer has undertaken recently.  Dark, complex, and unbelievably haunting (this book is one that will stay with you for a long, long time), We Were Liars marks a departure from Lockhart’s other books (all of which are very good).  Fans of her previous works might like this one, but should be warned that it is very, very different.

There are many remarkable things about Lockhart’s book, but her ability to create a cast of characters that are complex and undeniably human is one of the more striking aspects of this novel.  Instead of simply tearing apart the Sinclair family and their destructive, all-consuming greed, Lockhart allows the reader to see that they are fully human characters, full of love and full of flaws.  This helps make the book’s foreshadowed tragedy all the more searingly painful when it happens.

This is a brutal story.  It’s going to divide readers, to be sure.  But it’s also incredibly beautiful, thoughtful, and compelling.  Highly recommended.  It’s likely to generate a lot of discussion for teens and adults alike.  Absolutely memorable.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. Delacorte: 2014.  ARC read for review.

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