This book got a lot of accolade last year and was all the buzz among bloggers, BookTubers, and the GoodReads community. When a book gets that much attention, I’m drawn to it. The thing that gave me pause all of last year and much of this year is that it’s a Young Adult book. I don’t read YA for the single reason that teen angst makes me nuts.
Teen angst is why I read only the first Hunger Games book. Katniss and her nonsense – “Does Peeta really love me? Does he not love me? Is it all part of the game?” – made me hate the book so I did not read the rest. (Love the movies, though!)
Sure enough, there is teen angst in We Were Liars and it was a huge distraction.
Set in today’s time on the fictional Beechwood Island off the shore of Massachusetts, Cadence Sinclair Eastman tells an incomplete story of a recent tragedy that happened in her family.
Here’s a little background: Granddad Sinclair owns the island and built three houses on it for his three daughters. They all had children. There have been divorces and family fractures, and Grandma Sinclair recently passed away. Things haven’t been right with the Sinclair family for a while and the three daughters are fixated on winning their father’s favor, even if it means using their children as pawns. It’s really quite sickening.
The teenage cousins see the gluttony and greed in their mothers and they, too, find it sickening. The dichotomy of that scenario is that all of these children have lived a life of privilege. Granddad’s money has afforded them a lovely existence.
Then something happens. Something really tragic and horrible. But since we’re getting this story from Cady, we don’t know all the details. Her recollection is a patchwork of memories because she suffered some sort of accident that marred her memory. There’s an entire summer missing. Summer Fifteen is completely blank.
These are the four Liars: Cady, her cousins Johnny and Mirren, and Gat, a friend of Johnny’s who’s been coming to island summers since he was eight. They run around the island together every summer, they get into trouble, they jump off cliffs and swim and get ice cream. Cady is smitten with Gat. Very much so, and it’s the angst in this relationship that becomes a huge distraction and made me not like the book for about 148 pages.
But then the twist happens – and it’s a big one. I knew a twist was coming and perhaps that’s why the relationship stuff was so distracting. I wanted to GET TO IT ALREADY.
When I finally got to it, I was hooked. I read the last 80 pages in one sitting because I was enjoying the unfolding and resurfacing of Cady’s memory. The twist was great. It really was. Well done on the surprise, E. Lockhart. I did not see it coming.
Do I recommend this book to you? Yes, but only if the teen angst doesn’t bother you.