This is the only novel I have read written by E. Lockhart, and it is a re-read for me. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart is a young adult suspense novel. The story follows the wealthy and beautiful Sinclair family. The main protagonist of the story is the Sinclair family’s eldest granddaughter Cadence Eastman.
The Sinclairs spend their summer on their private island of Beechwood. It is their slice of paradise away from everyone else, secluded and beautiful. Cady, Johnny, and Mirren are cousins who are similar in age and are very close. Later, they are joined by Gat who is the nephew of Johnny’s mother’s boyfriend. Cady, Johnny, Mirren, and Gat form a close bond, and they call themselves the Liars. The focus of the story remains on these four characters as they navigate through their dysfunctional family with Cady as the narrator.
Cady has spent every summer at Beechwood since she was eight years old and looks forward to it. Gat starts coming to the island a couple of years later though he is welcomed there he is treated as an outsider by the older generation. Cady and Gat slowly fall in love; beginning a romantic relationship eventually. When Cady is fifteen she gets into an accident at Beechwood, and she spends the next two years recovering. Cady writes to Gat, Johnny, and Mirren but is hurt when she doesn’t receive a reply. She has no memory of the accident or what led to it. Her mother refuses to answer her questions. Cady constantly feels like something is missing, but she doesn’t know what.
Cady joins the family at Beechwood two years later. She is happy to be with the Liars again. No one else in her family tells her anything about the accident, even the Liars which leaves her frustrated. She decides to find clues and piece together the events of that summer herself. As she spends most of her time with Johnny, Mirren, and Gat away from other family members, she slowly starts recalling that summer. The façade of perfection that the Sinclair family maintains starts slowly crumbling. On paper, they seem progressive and liberal, but they are pretentious. This whole idea of the ideal American family is rooted in Sinclair’s mind, but it is toxic. The grandfather, Harris, keeps control over his daughters by using their inheritance against them
Gat is always reminded that he is an outsider by Cady’s grandfather subtly enough for others not to catch it, but the message is clear. Everyone seems to have a problem with Gat and Cady’s relationship because he is of Indian descent. His uncle proposes to Johnny’s mother, who refuses to accept the proposal because she knows she will lose her inheritance by marrying him. As an outsider to this family, Gat has a different perspective on the situation and often shares his views with the Liars. None of the sons-in-law of Harris’s daughters have ever been treated as a part of the family.
Meanwhile, Cady, Johnny, and Mirren don’t believe in the way, their family has lived or what they believe in. Once the cracks start showing, they keep getting bigger and bigger. Everyone in the family has the habit of dealing with pain and loss by suppressing it. Cady’s father leaves them; Cady and her mother pack away all of his things, make renovations to the house and act like he didn’t exist. They go about the same way in case of an accident too. Cady is miserable because she doesn’t know what has happened, and it eats at her, but no one wants to talk about it. It is the greed and pretentiousness of the family that eventually leads to the accident.
I remembered being shocked by the revelations towards the end and this time I understood the depth of it. This book has such strong themes that include sensitive topics, and it is done in a powerful yet subtle way. Also, the way this book is written is amazing. The writing is almost poetic; I don’t know how else to describe it. It keeps you hooked from the beginning with its story and proper pace. The reader is piecing together the events along with Cady; it is engaging.
I loved reading this book again. There are so many nuances and themes that I didn’t understand the first time around because I was young and unaware of things. The writing, the characters, and the psychological and suspense thriller kind of narrative is a page-turner. We Were Liars is one of my favorite young adult novels.
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