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.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.
Review: Four and a Half out of Five Stars
I love E. Lockhart's books. They always have so much witty dialogue that's actually really deep beneath the surface. Also John Green (of TFIOS, Looking For Alaska, and hilarious best friend characters) and Alexandra Bracken (of The Darkest Minds trilogy and all the feels) were both raving about this book. So I went in with extremely high expectations.
THEY WERE MET. HOO RAH!
LATELY I'VE BEEN SO LET DOWN BY HIGH EXPECTATIONS BUT THE CURSE IS BROKEN!!
It does have a very unique writing style and an amnesiac, unreliable narrator. But I liked that and loved the book.
World and Plot: This books takes place in good old regular America. Our main character is Cadence Sinclair Eastman, the first grandchild of a very wealthy family. The Sinclairs own a private island named Beechwood off the coast of Massachusetts where they spend every summer. The family includes the patriarch grandfather and his wife Tipper, their three daughters, their daughter's children, and one daughter's boyfriend's nephew. Cadence spends all her time with Mirren, Johnny, and Gat. They cause all sorts of trouble and call themselves the Liars. But then during summer fifteen a terrible accident changes everything. Cadence can't remember what happened and keeps notes above her bed trying to piece together the mystery.
Reoccurring Themes: Family, Wealth, Power, Tolerance, Guilt, Loss, Grief, Expectations
Reaction: I read We Were Liars in one sitting. I was hooked. It isn't like my new favorite book or anything, but I truly enjoyed it.
E. Lockhart has a particular writing style that is pretty much hit or miss. I think it's just peachy. But others do not. It has a lot of short and one word sentences. It can be very broken writing. And sometimes
But if that doesn't bother you then you're in for an awesome book y'all.
You open up the book and, lo and behold, there is a map.
Once I got over the map there is also The Sinclair Family Tree to study. So there was prep for this book involved.
The book is split into five parts. Part One is titled Welcome. It opens up with our narrator Cadence talking about the accident that gives her terrible migraines and memory problems. Then she says her problems began before that, when her dad left and she learned that to be a Sinclair is to never be needy or a failure.
Cadence's mother (who she calls Mummy which is endearingly British and slightly annoying at the same time) is the youngest daughter and has two sister named Carrie and Bess. Each daughter has their own house on the private island. Windemere for Penny, Red Gate for Carrie, and Cuddledown for Bess.
Cadence is the eldest grandchild and has many expectations to fill. Cady and the others started hanging out during summer eight when Gat joined the group. After Bess's divorce she got a new boyfriend named Ed. Ed's nephew Gat was brought along to play with Johnny for a couple weeks. Cadence, Mirren, Johnny, and Gat became inseparable. Gat ended up staying the whole summer.
During summer fifteen Cadence and Gat fall in love. It is ridiculously sweet.
There is writing words on the back of hands, boat rides at night, and saying one thing that means another. It is almost borderline cheesy, but does not cross into that realm.
After the love story we start to get introduced to the inner politics of the family. The grandfather interrupts a moment between Cady and Gat and you get the feeling that something is not quite right.
We learn that his wife Tipper died shortly before summer fifteen. Once again Cadence is told by her mother to
Everyone in the Sinclair family understand that this is how they do things. Gat does not. He brings up Tipper and Cadence's dad who left frequently. It makes him more of an outcast than he already is. Cady makes some remarks that allude to her cutting herself over this tragedies, but it's all very subtle so I'm not quite sure if she did or not.
Then the accident happens. For reasons she doesn't remember Cady went swimming one night by herself in her underwear. She smacked her head on a rock and sank to the bottom of the ocean. Later her mom found her on the sand still half underwater curled in a ball. And I'm just like
You poor girl. That is utterly terrifying. Cady goes home to Vermont to recover. None of the Liars reach out to her, not even Gat.
Now Cady suffers from blackouts and migraines that make her throw up. Her condition is knows as post-traumatic headaches and she takes addictive prescriptions pills for the pain. Instead of going to Beechwood for summer sixteen she goes on a trip to Europe with her dad. Her mom tells her it's a good idea because they're redoing the main house Clairmont this summer.
While on the trip Cadence suffers from her accident and writes and calls the liars. No one answers her and after a while she stops calling because she doesn't want to look weak.
At this point I'm pretty upset with the Liars. Your girl Cadence is going through a rough time and needs you people. How selfish of you not to be there for her.
Part two begins: Vermont. Cadence goes back to Vermont for the school year and barely attends school. When she does she falls down stairs and frightens the students with her crying. But because she is a Sinclair she maintains an air of mystery and is not teased.
Cadence starts to give away all her belongings because she thinks it's making a difference. She gives away her decorations, her pillow, her photos. Nothing has value to her anymore. Obviously Cady is having some problems...
Almost everyday Cadence asks her mom what happened during her accident, but she can never remember what she says. Her mom eventually stops telling her and tells her it'll be better if she remembers on her own.
Her parents want her to go with her father to Australia for the summer, but Cadence isn't having it. She is on her best behavior and her grandfather convinces them to let her go to Beechwood. She can only go for four weeks though. Her aunts will be watching her the whole time.
We come to Part Three: Summer Seventeen. Cadence meets all her family but the Liars at the docks. She sees the New Clairmont and it's completely different. Everything warm about the house has been changed to sleek and modern. Cadence starts to freak out but her mother yanks her out of it and tells her to knock it off and be normal.
Cadence heads to Cuddledown house and there are the Liars, waiting for her. She's excited and angry to see them. She tells them how she didn't graduate and has to do another year. Mirren talks about her boyfriend. They go the beach together and it's like old times again. Mirren, Johnny, and Gat decide they want to stay in Cuddledown for the summer and not go to meals at New Clairmont. Cady gets the feeling the decided this beforehand.
Cady and Gat have a moment. He tells her he never thought he'd see her again, but Cady can't bring herself to ask him why he ignored her all this time. Cady goes back to her room at Windemere and starts going through things to give away. Her mom catches her and says she can do what she wants as long as she comes to dinner at Clairmont and behaves.
When Cadence is alone she takes a pad of paper and writes down everything she remembers about summer fifteen. Then she writes questions down that she needs to find out. Why did I go into the water alone at night? Did I really have a head injury from the swim, or did something else happen? And what happened between me and Gat?
Later on Cady is too sick to go to dinner. She finds her aunt Carrie wondering around by herself in the dark. She offers her a flashlight but she says she likes the dark.
The next day Cadence meets up with Mirren. Mirren says she hates email and that's why she never answered. She lets Cady know her, Johhny, and Gat are living in Cuddledown for the summer. But Cadence's mom won't let her move in there with them because she's not well enough.
Gat and Cady have a talk and Cady bitches him out for ditching her. Gat asks if they can start over and Cady agrees. I wasn't sure about how I felt about this. On the one hand I really like them together. On the other he ignored her for two years. So I was skeptically optimistic.
Cady starts to remember things that happened during summer fifteen. She recalls the aunts having a fight with her grandfather about who was going to get the Boston house. She had a fight with her grandfather about ivory statues. Gat gave her a book with the inscription For Cady with everything, everything. Gat.
The summer goes on and Cady spends her time with the Liars. Mirren often gets sick and stays inside. Gat and Cady fight over things, but always stay together despite that. Johnny is reckless and does what he wants.
Then Cady remembers how horrible the aunts were during summer fifteen. How they fought and fought and fought over Tipper's stuff and the estate and the money. How they tried to use their children to get ahead in the fight. How her grandfather never really approved of Gat or his uncle because of their color. How all the aunts never had money of their own and always relied on the grandfather and things getting nasty. And then she remembers something they did, the Liars. The thing that changed everything. And everything begins to fall together in a horrible sense of clarity.
Lol that's all I'm going to say about it. There is a twist and it should not be spoiled. Don't be like my dear sister and Wikipedia the plot when you get frustrated. If you know it's coming it won't feel the same. And boy did it make me feel something.
The twist is what makes this novel what it is and you want to not see it coming.
Yeah, the TFiOS movie is coming. Yeah, I'm excited.
But back to We Were Liars. It's a fast read and totally worth it. I highly highly recommend it. It's a short and well... not sweet read. More of a bitter flavor actually. So go pick it up. GO. GO NOW. GO TO BARNES AND NOBLE. And take me with you dude.
"There is not even a Scrabble word for how bad I feel."
"I suffer migraines. I do not suffer fools."
"I'll be fine, they tell me. I won't die. It'll just hurt a lot."
"Always do what you're afraid to do."
"No one like a waffler."
"Never take a seat in the back of the room."
"Never complain, never explain."
"Don't take no for an answer."
"Never eat anything bigger than your ass."
"Do not accept an evil you can change."
"Be a little kinder than you have to."