Cadence, Johnny, Mirren and Gat. Three are cousins. One is the best friend and first love. All four are liars. But it is Cadence’s lie that is the biggest, and Cadence’s life has been excruciatingly painful because of it.
E. Lockhart’s latest novel, We Were Liars, perfectly captures the mythos surrounding three generations of the Sinclair clan—beautiful, privileged, and extraordinarily wealthy. To outsiders, theirs is a fairytale existence: the tall, blond patriarch, his equally blond and beautiful daughters, and their exquisitely tanned and athletic children. The setting is Beechwood, their private island off the coast of Massachusetts, where the families all gather to spend summers boating, picnicking, and playing tennis.
Narrator Cady is the oldest grandchild, emotionally fragile and doped up on Percocet. An unstable narrator at best, Cady is slowly recalling the events of her 15th summer when a traumatic brain injury left her with selective memory loss. Her spare but evocative story is simply heart wrenching as she exposes her family’s greed, manipulation and the many, many lies.
Having just completed We Were Liars, I was completely staggered by this book and I did something that I almost never do—I flipped back to the beginning and started reading it all over again. And you will, too, no doubt, because this is the rare book that compels its reader to reexamine the story from a newfound perspective once the truth is uncovered. Like all great mysteries, We Were Liars unspools hints without the reader even realizing it. Cady’s voice is, frankly, pitiful and despairing but I found myself caught up in her point of view, in her merciless descriptions of her family, and her desperate love for her liars: Johnny, Mirren and Gat.
Can you love someone without liking the things they do, the beliefs they hold, the life they live? How far would you be willing to go to prove what you believe? E. Lockhart has written a mesmerizing and lyrical tale, deceptively simple, full of truth, full of lies. I cannot recommend this book enough, but I don’t want to spoil the plot, so read it before its secrets are revealed. Read it before you hear about it from anyone else. Read it and be amazed.
Much thanks to NetGalley and Random House for the e-ARC. I can now happily remove myself from our library’s long waiting list. I’m sure we’ll see We Were Liars on many of the best books lists for 2014. Can an award be far behind?