We Were Liars
Delacorte Press. 2014. ISBN: 9780385741262
The Sinclairs are a perfect all-American family – tall, tan, athletic old-blood Democrats with a private summer island. The three grown daughters of Harris and Tipper Sinclair vacation here with their children every summer, each in their house built by Harris. Cadence, Johnny, and Mirren are the eldest grandchildren, and together with Johnny’s step-brother, Gat, form the Liars, who are inseparable in the summers they spend together. But tragedy strikes the summer of their fifteenth year, when Cady is found unconscious and cold on the beach, and suffers from amnesia and migraines. Now, the Sinclairs seem far from perfect. The daughters drink, the family patriarch is suffering from dementia, and Cadence’s life is ruled by doctors and medications. The seventeenth summer on Beechwood is different from the summers before the fifteenth year, but it is also the summer where the truth about that fateful summer will be revealed.
We Were Liars is the newest book by the celebrated young adult writer E. Lockhart. Lockhart’s writing style is somewhat different from other young adult books. In The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, a book also focused on a well-to-do family, precocious Frankie’s voice is conveyed well through the cerebral writing style. However, Cady is not Frankie, and the narration seems somewhat removed and difficult to relate to. Given Cady’s history, this may be intentional, since Cady does feel somewhat distant from her family and the island since the accident, but readers who are new to Lockhart’s writing might have a difficult time relating to the writing style.
Essentially, the novel is a mystery with an unexpected ending, which is what makes the book a worthwhile read. However, this is not a gripping, page-turning mystery. The pacing of the book is kind of slow, which might make the readers wonder why they might want to care about the unrelatable, hazy heroine and her similarly one-dimensional cousins. Although the novel falls short of achieving a gripping suspense, the ending, like in Code Name Verity, makes the book definitely worth reading, and wanting to go back and rereading again to look for clues. Those who decide to stick with the book will definitely be rewarded.
Cadence, Johnny, Mirren, and Gat call themselves the Liars, and spend every summer inseparable on their grandfather’s private island, until tragedy tears them apart.
About the Author
I am the author of We Were Liars, Fly on the Wall, Dramarama, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks and the Ruby Oliver quartet: The Boyfriend List, The Boy Book, The Treasure Map of Boys, andReal Live Boyfriends. How to Be Badwas co-written with Lauren Myracle and Sarah Mlynowski. – from the author’s website
Realistic Fiction. Mystery.
Curriculum Ties N/A
- Introduce the Liars.
- Talk about Cadence’s accident and memory loss.
Challenge Issues: sexuality
Challenge Defense Ideas:
- Have a copy of the American Library Association Library Bill of Rightsto show/give to patron.
- In addition to, or in place of the above, explain library policy of inclusion of information that might be controversial. For example, Pasadena Public Library, Philosophy of Selection. Have a printed copy ready, with appropriate sections highlighted.
- Explain the parental rights and responsibilities with their children’s library use. Explain the different card designations and the parents’ right to monitor or restrict borrowing of materials.
- Depending on the library’s policy, either have paperwork to fill out for formal challenges, or the contact information of those who handle challenges.
- Give examples of book reviews from School Library Journal, Library Journal, or BookList. Note any awards that the book received.
Reasons for Inclusion
Popularity. Critical Acclaim.