We Were Liars might be the most hyped-up Young Adult book released this year. E. Lockhart has been praised by John Green and Scott Westerfeld for her haunting novel about the Sinclair family and Beechwood Island.
Usually when I write a review, I don’t like to include the opinions of other authors or reviewers. Obviously the book cover is going to boast how amazing the book is - it’s called marketing. However, We Were Liars is actually 10 times better than the review quotes claim it to be. Want to know why?
It starts of with the writing, which is so beautiful. I know beautiful is a meaningless and overrated word in reviews, but I’ll prove it. Take the opening sentences of the book:
Welcome to the beautiful Sinclair family.
No one is a criminal.
No one is an addict.
No one is a failure.
The Sinclairs are athletic, tall, and handsome. We are old-money Democrats. Our smiles are wide, our chins square, and our tennis serves aggressive.
Every creative writing class I took, focussed at least 5 lessons on characterisation and the narrative voice - this opening paragraph shows how to set a scene and give a sense of the narrator and her family.
This narrator is called Cadence and she’s the oldest grandchild in the Sinclair family. Each summer, the whole family (grandparents, three beautiful daughters and their children) meet on a private island. In Cadence’s “Summer 15” something goes horribly wrong and she wakes up at a hospital on the mainland without her memory. What happened in summer 15?
The journey of Cadence is the journey of retrieving her memory and learning that not everything is what it seems. As a reader, you feel bad for Cadence who is slowly learning that the opening paragraph of the book is the furthest thing from the truth. She is a teenager, just 17 when she tries to uncover the truth, who has to learn some horrible truths about her family and herself. How can anyone cope with it?
Cadence deals with it in a very mature and raw way. She didn’t read like a teenager to me, she analysed things and thinks everything through before she acts. I guess if you really want a teenage-y narrator, this is a negative, but I adored a more mature narrator.
The plot takes twists and turns that completely threw me off every single time. You want to keep reading. You want to find out what happened in Summer 15 almost more than Cadence was to know.
Another bonus is the length of the book - 224 pages means that you don’t have to read for hours to find out what happens. There is definitely suspense and things don’t start to make sense until page 180, but the story is constantly moving and progressing.
We all know the pressures and expectations of belonging in your family, but if your family turns out to be complete strangers, what can you do?