Sunday, February 16, 2014

Book Review: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart


Delacorte Press, May 13, 2014

We Were Liars is the story of a wealthy American family, headed by Harris and Tipper Sinclair. The story is narrated by Cadence ("Cady") Sinclair Eastman, Harris's first grandchild and daughter of Penelope Sinclair. It begins in Cadence's eighth summer at Beechwood, the family's private island in Massachusetts. It is the summer that Cady and her cousins meet Gat. 

Readers get a brief summary of summers eight through fifteen, each year Cady and her cousins, Johnny and Mirren, and Gat meet up at the summer retreat. The four teens identify themselves as the Liars, referencing the way the entire Sinclair family lives, as people who turn their backs on the truth and put forth a "brave" face for themselves and for each other. By summer fourteen, Cady and Gat discover an attraction to one another. The following summer, this attraction solidifies. Harris Sinclair makes it clear that he does not condone the relationship because Gat is an outsider, a boy of Indian blood. 

During summer fifteen, something happens that shatters the Sinclair family. Cady's mother discovers her face-down on the beach, barely breathing. Cady has a long hospital stay due to injuries. While recovering from the incident, she can't remember how or why she would be swimming by herself and wonders why the other Liars abandoned her. She sends emails and gifts to Johnny, Mirren, and Gat but receives no response from either of them. 

Cady's sixteenth summer is spent in Europe with her father, so she is unable to return to Beechwood and see Gat. Although she and her father travel to the grandest, most historical cities in Europe, she spends most of her time in hotels, dealing with debilitating migraines - a remnant of her accident at Beechwood the previous year. 

Two years after the accident, Cady returns to Beechwood and anticipates finally getting answers about what happened on the island two years ago. However, Cady discovers more questions than answers as she sees the changes that have taken place on Beechwood over the past two years. Not only has Harris Sinclair's beloved Clairmont house been torn down and replaced with a much more modern house, Harris's three daughters - Cady's mother and her two aunts - are no longer fighting over the family's fortune. Harris Sinclair himself is suffering, as he battles dementia brought on by the loss of his wife and destruction of his family. Meanwhile, Cady's mother warned family members that doctors said Cady needs to remember things on her own, and no one should talk about what happened. 

Over the course of four weeks on the island, Cady slowly starts to remember the events of the fifteenth summer. And when she does remember, it becomes clear to Cady that her migraines are nothing compared to the pain experienced by others on Beechwood. 

We Were Liars is both thrilling and romantic, full of secrets and lies surrounding one of the most powerful families in America. Characters in this book are complex, both endearing and infuriating to readers. Despite the power and wealth enjoyed by the Sinclairs, by the end of the book, no one will envy them. 

I received an ARC of We Were Liars by E. Lockhart from NetGalley

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