Book Review: We Were Liars

Title: We Were Liars

Author: E. Lockhart

Genre: YA / Mystery

Pages: 242

Rating: ★★★☆☆

“Welcome to the beautiful Sinclair family.

No one is a criminal.

No one is an addict.

No one is a failure”

Cady is the eldest grandchild of the privileged Sinclair family.

They are old-money Democrats. They are blonde, they are white. They play tennis and they go to Harvard.

Every summer they return to their family island (yes, their family island) just off the coast of Massachusetts. They spend their summer swimming on private beaches, kayaking, boating, going shopping, and eating delicious food prepared by their cooks. It all seems very idyllic, very perfect.

They have everything on their side, every reason to be thankful and to be happy.

Surely nothing in this dreamy summer-island could go wrong.


The trust-funds are drying up. Divorces and failed relationships are tearing the family apart. No-body can agree on anything and rivalries begin to form.

Summer 15 turns out to be a dud. But after her accident, Cady can’t really remember why.

How exactly did she end up half-naked, knocked out on the beach?

Finally allowed back to the island for Summer 17, Cady is determined to piece together the events of 15. She believes she must have been attacked by someone, why else would the whole family be working to keep the secret from her?

Even her cousins Johnny and Mirren and her crush Gat don’t seem keen to help her. Why won’t they tell her what happened? Why can’t she just remember?

Summer 15 is locked away deep inside Cady’s memories.

And maybe for a good reason.

Can she handle the truth?

I was captivated right at the start; drawn in by this wealthy, pretentious, patriarchal family. I wanted to know about their fanciful summers, the delights of the island, the blossoming (if not confusing) romance between Cady and Gat.

Sometimes I got a little tired of the privileged family and their whims, but nothing was stronger than my  desire to find out what really happened during the Summer of 15.

The idea of finding out the truth is so appealing that you just. can’t. stop. reading.

Things really picked up around the half-way mark, though,  and totally redeemed any dull bits. It’s only 225 pages long in total, so it didn’t take long for things to get good again. If you find yourself a little bored at the start of the book, keep reading – it’s worth it.

All of a sudden we’ve gone from happy family holidays to dealing with divorce, racism, sexism, the patriarchy, and some very complicated family issues. Not to mention, the question of what really happened to Cady. 

Things get heavy. Things get crazy.

Now I’m going to list some things I absolutely loved about this book:

It started with a map and a family tree. I swoon for this kind of thing, okay? There’s nothing like looking at an intricate little map in the opening pages to get your head around things.

The writing. I’ve seen some reviews with complaints about the writing-style of this book, but personally I loved it. Quite a few people have called it ‘purple prose’ but I honestly thought it was really poetic and quite beautiful in places. At times it seemed a little pretentious, but I think that’s part of the point. I like the use of disjointed sentences because it changes the way you read and understand the words, and also hints at a fragmented mind…

The fairytales. Throughout the book there are little fairytale anecdotes that reflect and foreshadow the actual story. I found these really powerful and a great creative addition.

The big reveal. Oh wow, it’s all so perfect. The mystery, the suspense, and then it all ties together in one big twisted knot and my jaw dislocated and fell to the floor in surprise. I didn’t see it coming, but now that I know I can think back over the story and realise how well-crafted it all was. Very satisfying ending. And I shall say no more in case I accidentally blab too much and ruin it for you.

Now, go read it!

7 thoughts

  1. I particularly liked the little fairytales and how they fit in with the plot. I also liked that she didn’t described the other liars very much physically, but you could picture them instantly from how they were described (eg Mirren was sugar, curiosity and rain).

    Liked by 1 person

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