When I found out that E. Lockhart was writing a new book, I was all over it, not because I had read any of her novels – they were all on my wishlist – but because I knew that she was hailed to be one of the most impressive writers of YA contemporary. And then when I found out that We Were Liars was a YA contemporary mystery story, I was sold.
You have probably already heard about We Were Liars. You’ve seen the praise, seen people raving about and gasping over the ending, and have been unable to avoid the hype; it’s everywhere. But I’d like you to forget about that for a few minutes, as someone whose reading experience can be greatly affected by hype, as it was in this case. I originally added We Were Liars to my wishlist because it just sounded like my sort of book – and there are things to love about it aside from the reveal. If a good book rests on purely having a good ending, it isn’t really a good book at all. Do not try to guess the truth as you’re reading; just enjoy being taken away to a private island to bask in the heat of the sun, the sound of the waves, and the privilege of wealth and aristocracy. Meet the Sinclairs.
We Were Liars is beautifully and poetically written. I am not familiar with E. Lockhart’s style, but I thought it was incredibly unique. It’s simple, but each sentence doesn’t have one meaning, but possibly two or three. It really makes you think about what you have just read, constantly questioning. We Were Liars is the sort of book I love to read if I want to be taken away from London to somewhere so very different, where I can imaging sitting on a beach in the warmth, watching the sea, eating vats of homemade ice cream and drinking fresh lemonade. It’s not my life, but it’s real for 17-year old Cadence Sinclair Eastman – also known as Cady – whose family lives, in the summer at least, on an island on the coast of Massachusetts – my favourite kind of setting for young adult contemporary. Cady plays with her fellow Liars, cousins Mirren and Johnny plus romantic interest, Gat, and grows up alongside them. We Were Liars is fuelled by complex relationships that lean on as much as what’s unsaid as is said, yet it’s sometimes hard to feel sorry for these rich, beautiful, privileged people who let old traditions govern their way of life. But you’re unable to stop reading, wanting to spend more time with the family even though you cannot imagine what it’s like to be any one of them.
E. Lockhart keeps you drawn in and hooked on the story with her vivid yet dreamy prose, not unlike Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca or Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Virgin Suicides, sometimes a little Gothic and often very literary. It plays with notions of class and racism among fraught family and romantic relationships, accidents and the truth. We Were Liars is beautiful, smart and will leave you questioning whether privilege itself is an illusion. But as I said, don’t read it just for the mystery and the ending, but the impressive writing, intangible characters and the joy of imagining yourself getting lost in one of the four beautiful homes. I wish I’d read it before the hype, but it’s still one of the most impressive novels I’ve read so far this year.
Published: 13th May 2014 (US) 15th May 2014 (UK
Publisher: Delacorte Press (US) Hot Key Books (UK)
Source: Thank you to the publisher for providing this book for review!