After a mysterious accident turns beautiful, privileged but ultimately damaged Cady into a dazed, pill popping shadow of her former self, she returns to her family's island getaway in the company of her fellow Liars, cousins Johnny and Mirren and handsome family friend Gat, in attempt to understand the truth about what happened, what she has become and what the destructive quartet have done.
Let me just get my cursing out of the way. Holy shit! I loved this book!
I don't know if I would have picked up We Were Liars were it not for some stellar recommendations from the #ukyachat group on Twitter. Stories about poor little rich kids aren't usually my cup of tea, but I gave it a go anyway. And I'm so glad I did. We Were Liars is a hauntingly beautiful book, written from the point of view of sullen, spoiled teenager Cady Sinclair. After an accident she cannot recall, she spends much of her time dosed up on pills. As a result, what we end up with a sullen, unreliable narrator as she reunites at her childhood island getaway with her fellow Liars and partners in crime; cousins Johnny and Mirren and family friend Gat, who Cady may or may not be in love with. There are plenty of questions: What happened that fateful summer? Why do Cady's family refuse to speak of the accident? Why did none of her friends speak to her until now? There are no immediate answers. Instead what follows is a story of nostalgia for days gone by, young love/hopeless infatuation and the grim facade of real people behind seemingly privileged lives, one that on many levels is instantly relatable to anyone who has felt that yearning for care free days that you thought would go on forever. Reading this book in the park under the first falling autumn leaves (damn your British summertime!), it was impossible for me not to be moved, to reminisce about my own journey into adulthood, the people I left behind and those who left me behind. E Lockhart is a gifted author, her writing style beautifully poetic and almost lyrical in places, the perfect tone for the dreamy feeling of nostalgia that hangs through the book. My interest usually wanes at some points in slow-paced, reflective books with an introverted narrator, but I can honestly say I didn't want to put the book down once!
The novel is beautifully interwoven with fables, underscoring the constant feeling of unease and tension bubbling away as Cady slowly begins to recall more of what happened that fateful summer and the cracks in the Sinclair family begin to deepen and widen. Reality begins to bleed into nostalgia, akin to that scene in 500 Days of Summer where Tom's fantasy and reality about reuniting with Summer play out on split screen, and eventually, Lockhart reveals a sucker punch ending that puts everything that came before it in a whole new light. I won't spoil anything, but I thought it was absolute perfection. I pride myself on seeing twists coming from a mile away in books or movies, but this one completely blindsided me!
A wonderful contrast of nihilistic despair and rose-tinted reminiscence, combined with secrets and lies from a family falling to pieces behind the facade of privilege, We Were Liars is a truly gripping read, one I'm going to join in raving about!