The bad news is that summer is coming to a close. The good news is that there’s still time to squeeze in one more terrific summer read. In fact, one quiet afternoon may be all you need to unravel the twisting tale We Were Liars by E. Lockhart.
Cadence Sinclair Eastman is a 17-year-old member of a prominent, old-money family. The entire clan spends every summer on their private island near Martha’s Vineyard, where Cadence, her cousins Mirren and Johnny, and Johnny’s friend Gat are affectionately known as the Liars. Always together, the foursome have splashed, sailed and picnicked their way through each carefree summer, until two years ago. Something happened that summer, leaving Cadence with a traumatic brain injury and debilitating migraines, but no memory of the incident. Now, she returns to the island determined to put the pieces together.
Cadence narrates the story, skipping between past and present as she recalls fragments of events and conversations. Her sharp observations take us behind the Sinclairs’ beautiful façade, where life is not exactly the fairy tale that it seems. Along the way, you may find it hard to like many of the trust fund dependent characters, but that’s okay. I promise this won’t stop you from racing through the pages to keep up with (or maybe get a step ahead of) Cadence as she seeks to discover the truth.
My 14-year-old daughter read this in one evening, then handed it to me, saying, “I’m so freaked out. You have to read this.” I read it the following morning (wondering how my daughter slept at all the previous night!) and gave it to my neighbor after lunch. She finished it by dinnertime and called it “a real mind-bender.” A lengthy coffee-drinking session was required to talk it all out.
I wouldn’t dream of spoiling the ending, but at its core, We Were Liars is a startling example of the ways we hide the truth from others and even from ourselves. Read it. Then get a cup of coffee and we’ll talk.