We Were Liars
Growing up, Cadence Sinclair Easton spent summers on her grandfather’s private island in Cape Cod where each person in the Sinclair family – the grandfather and his three daughters – has his or her own home. Cady roamed the island with her two cousins, Johnny and Mirren, and friends and eventual love interest, Gat – a crew known as “The Liars” – visiting the houses, hanging out at the beach, and watching her mother, aunts, and grandfather get drunk and bicker about money, real estate, inheritance, and broken marriages. For two years following her 15th summer, she has not been allowed to go back and is suffering from debilitating migraines and amnesia. She knows something happened that last summer on the island but the combination of memory loss and painkillers for her migraines leaves her unable to piece together what happened. When she returns to the island to rejoin The Liars, things seem like they might go back to normal, but as Cady starts to remember what happened in that 15th summer, she knows nothing can be the same again. Because of the first-person narration by Cadence, the reader comes to the realization along with her, an ending that will make you question everything you just read and compel you to turn around and reread We Were Liars, looking for hints.
I read this book after being a big fan of E. Lockhart’s The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks, but other than being about rich New Englanders (which, as a Bostonian, I feel I can especially appreciate), the books have very little in common. We Were Liars feels so dark right from the beginning, and while you can’t put your finger on it, something always feels a little off. It makes sense since we are getting the story from the point of view of an obviously ill, overprotected, and wholly unreliable narrator. Seriously, Cady might be the most questionable narrator I’ve ever read.
Cady’s family is not the kind of endearingly quirky rich people that Frankie’s family is; the members of the Sinclair family are pretty awful people actually, from the racist grandfather all the way down to the bratty kids so protected by money that they can’t even contemplate the consequences of their actions. They remind me of this quote about the Buchanans in The Great Gatsby – “They were careless people…they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together and let other people clean up the mess they made” (chapter 9 of The Great Gatsby).
We Were Liars has been optioned for a movie. They have only just recently announced who would be adapting the movie script that E. Lockhart wrote based on the book, so there is no telling how long it will take to come to the screen. I can’t wait to see the sets – the island, the houses, the Cape!
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