Review: We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart

Review: We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart

You’ve undoubtedly heard about this book by now. There is a surprise Thing at the end of this that makes it rather impossible to talk about in detail in a review. But I’m going to give it my best.

Cadence “Cady” Sinclair is a member of the elite and wealthy Sinclair family. They are old money, complete with a private island, European looks, and a preferred brand of purebred dogs. Cady is the eldest grandchild, with two of her cousins just weeks and months behind her, Johnny and Mirren. Completing the “Liars” is Gat, the nephew of Johnny’s mom’s live-in Indian boyfriend. Each summer, the family spends the summer on the private island, and the Liars become inseparable. Then, during Summer Fifteen, Cady suffers an accident.

I liked We Were Liars. I read through it in one sitting (the reading time clocking in at just under three hours). It is undoubtedly compelling. And the descriptions of love and teenaged perceptions of love were so spot on, particularly in the first twenty pages or so, that they made me sigh out loud in happiness.

Turns out I liked it much more than I did the only other Lockhart I’ve read, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks. I read that one in a day as well, but it came across as much more preachy and message-y. Still, We Were Liars was not without its imperfections.

In light of the ubiquitous talk lately about diversity in books, this one gave me pause with the constant descriptions of the blonde Sinclair family, the matching golden retrievers, and the private island empire complete with squabbles about who will inherit what. To top it off, the “other” is present in the form of the poor(ish) and Indian Gat, whom no one really tries to understand outside the scope of summers at the island. While the book does point out some of the issues with the wealthy and entitled Sinclairs and the grandfather’s obvious racism, I didn’t feel that it really did enough to address them.

One other minor complaint is that after the Thing is revealed, the book ends rather abruptly. The story arc of the book is about Cady figuring out the Thing. None of the other issues are resolved. While that is probably rather true to life, I would have liked to see a bit more about how Cady deals with the Thing and how the rest of the family deals with the Thing. (Oh, also, I felt like the term “Liars” as it applied to the four was never adequately explained.)

Past all of that, I enjoyed being in Cady’s head, unreliable as that head was. And I particularly enjoyed her fairy tale retellings, sprinkled throughout the last section. I recommend this one, particularly if you like short, twisty books.