I just finished a book that came highly recommended, and now I completely see why. I am smitten. It is only 220 pages, and full of beautiful backgrounds, complex personalities, rich people, beautiful people, family drama, love, and coming of age.
We Were Liars was recommended to me first by a friend of mine who is an elementary school librarian. Basically she has my dream job. Is that weird? That it’s my dream job? Think what you will.
Since she recommended it, I began seeing it like a pregnant woman who sees pregnant women everywhere she goes; like a silver Ford Explorer driver who is constantly behind another silver Ford Explorer… You get my point: everywhere! It had to be read. It was begging me, practically.
The book is set on a private family island around Martha’s Vineyard, which tells you right off… the main cast of characters are rich. And uppity, and private and elite. The patriarch of the family is Harris Sinclair, and the wife’s name is Tipper. Hello?! The opening line is “Welcome to the beautiful Sinclair family.” And there you have it. Tipper and Harris have raised three beautiful but selfish, immature daughters who all have families and grown children of their own, each occupying their own house on the island. Lucky for these crazy moms, their oldest children all have good heads on their shoulders, and therein we have the Liars.
The Liars are the three oldest grandchildren (15 years old for the majority of the book), Mirren, Johnny and Cadence. They are cousins and best friends. The fourth Liar is named Gat Patel, the would-be stepbrother to Johnny, whose mom is living with Gat’s dad in NYC. But remember that he is unrelated. He and his father are also Indian, which is not Mobfather Harris’ favorite thing.
The book is told from the perspective of the first grandchild and oldest Liar, Cadence. Her father leaves her and her mom right at the beginning of the story, devastating her of course. Her mother’s response to her show of grief is a compassionate, “Be normal. Right now. Because you are, because you can be.” A phrase we find oft-repeated in times of total crushing despair for this family. A response which we can reasonably attribute to the excessive drinking and misplaced priorities throughout the book.
The families all converge upon Beechwood Island each summer, where the Liars reunite and have deep meaningful teenage conversations over food, stolen wine, and fudge. They fall in love, they stage a pretty significant revolution against the tyranny of the grandfather’s wealth and the hold it has over their futures and their mothers, they experience some great losses and then, the ending… Wow. I did not know it had a remarkable finish until it hit me smack dab in the face. And that’s all I can say about that.
5 Things to Love About We Were Liars (now that you’ve read all that… I’ll just bullet point it for you!)
- It’s short. Sometimes you just need a brief, easy, but remarkable read. This is it. This book would be a perfect beach/vacation book
- It’s fun to read about rich people who live lives that are completely unlike my own. I’m rich in other ways, friend… But the moneyed life of the Sinclairs is not my world. But how fun to escape there for a little while!
- Dysfunctional family drama is always great for storytelling. It can go so many different ways, and every character is able to take a separate path; sometimes, as in this case, you don’t always know how that will manifest, which makes for great reading, if you have a good writer taking you along, which leads to my next point…
- Great writing! Lockhart is a fantastic storyteller and her descriptions of everything (scenery, background, personality, conversations) are simply spot-on. They don’t go too long or detailed so that you lose the picture.. I felt like I had a perfect visual the entire time. Also her characters are consistent and believable; likable, lovable or despicable as she wants them to be, and you can buy it.
- Teenage love… written just right. Nothing gaudy or raunchy, nothing too absurd or annoying… Just those crazy teenage emotions but sweet and heart-wrenching. As they are when you are 15/16! Lockhart doesn’t make these teenagers too angsty or annoying; they are, naturally, but it’s not obnoxious or over the top. And, unlike other YA books (I’m looking at you, Fault in Our Stars), they talk like normal rich, privileged teenagers – heady but not like Dead Poets or something.
This is also a great book to grab if you are in a reading slump and need a shock to the system.
Check it out and let me know what you think!