May Contain Spoilers
Wow! This is a hard book to review, because it’s so important for the reader to go in blind, or it won’t work. The slow unfolding of Cady’s forgotten memory, like a languid summer day, is suspenseful and engrossing. I started reading They Were Liars without even reading the blurb, and I’m glad I didn’t. Knowing too much going in spoils the mystery of Cady’s lost summer, so I hadn’t even read any reviews for the book. I hate spoilers!
I’ll give you a general overview of the story, with no spoilers, and try to tell you how I felt about it without ruining the read for you. Deep breath – here we go!
Cady spends her summers on Beechwood, the family island. Her grandparents, and each of their three daughters, have a house there, and Cady’s summer days are spent swimming, hanging out with her cousins, and enjoying the closeness of her extended family. Everything seems so idyllic to her, until she turns fifteen. Then her life slowly starts to unravel; her father leaves her and her mother, moving to Colorado with another woman. Because her family doesn’t believe in actually expressing your feelings, her mother works out her hurt and grief by erasing every trace of Cady’s father from their life. Their old furniture is given away, the house in Vermont is redecorated, and only then can they begin their summer vacation.
While Cady is hurt and confused, and hadn’t found the process of rearranging the house therapeutic, her mother continues on as though nothing has happens, and she expects Cady to do the same. Stiff upper lip, steady square jaw, no emotional outbursts allowed. It’s during this pivotal summer that Cady realizes how imperfect her family is. Petty jealousies tear away at her aunts. Her grandfather takes pleasure in fueling the discord between his children. And Gat, her cousin Johnny’s friend, a boy she’s known forever, has suddenly stolen her heart, despite her family’s disapproval, because Gat doesn’t fit into their wealthy, white world view.
Cady is an unreliable narrator, and I was never sure when she was telling the truth, or what she thought was the truth. When she forgets most of summer fifteen after suffering a traumatic brain injury, she frantically attempts to discover what happened. Why was she swimming by herself? Why won’t her mom or the rest of her family tell her what happened that warm summer night?
While I loved Cady’s voice, I’m not so sure that I liked this over-indulged, spoiled young woman. Even though I was at odds about how I felt about her and her equally privileged cousins, I could not put the book down. Now that it’s a day after I finished We Were Liars, I can’t even tell you if I liked the book. All I know is that it held me mesmerized, and all I wanted was to find out the truth behind Cady and her whacked family. If you are looking for a quick, hard to put down read, We Were Liars has your name written all over it.
Review copy provided by publisher
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 New York Times bestselling author, National Book Award finalist, and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.