Overall Rating: 3.5/5
Quality of Prose: 4/5
Quality of Story: 4/5
Quality of Characters: 3/5
Ability to Make the Audience Think/Feel Differently: 2/5
How Long It Took Me To Finish: 2 days
A 1 Sentence Summary
Cadence Sinclair, of the rich and famous Sinclair family, struggles to remember what happened during the summer of her 15th year, when she suffered a traumatic brain injury on her family’s private island.
My Favorite Quotes
“They know that tragedy is not glamorous. They know it doesn’t play out in life as it does on a stage or between the pages of a book. It is neither a punishment meted out nor a lesson conferred. Its horrors are not attributable to one single person. Tragedy is ugly and tangled, stupid and confusing.”
“Everything doesn’t seem like anything when you love someone. Especially when you’re young.”
What I Loved About It
THE TWIST. OH MY GOODNESS THAT TWIST THOUGH.
It’s the kind of twist I’ve only seen before in movies, and E. Lockhart pulls it off magnificently in this novel.
You’ll get to a point where you think you’ve gotten to the twist but oh ho ho THERE IS ANOTHER ONE COMING AND IT’S HUGE AND CRAZY. And I’m not going to spoil it for you because the twist is honestly what makes this book great and there’s no point if you know what it is.
Anyways, the twist (as I’m sure you can probably guess by now) blew my mind. Previous to the twist, I was interested in this book and what would happen next, but to be honest, I wasn’t enthralled by it. The twist made all the difference.
I found We Were Liars shockingly relatable. My family may not be rich enough to own a private island near Martha’s Vineyard, but I understand that feeling you get as a young person where you feel like your family is so narrow-minded and on the verge of falling apart and you are briefly willing to do whatever it takes to teach them the error of their ways and to keep the family from splintering. I think my students will relate to this as well.
I did love E. Lockhart’s prose in this one. It’s different from her biting and hilarious wit in The Boyfriend List (which I read and loved in high school), though definitely still clever, unique, and impactful. Here’s an example of it when the narrator is describing how she felt when her dad left her and her mother suddenly and without warning: “My father put a last suitcase into the backseat of the Mercedes…and started the engine. Then he pulled out a handgun and shot me in the chest. I was standing on the lawn and I fell. The bullet hole opened wide and my heart rolled out of my rib cage and down into a flower bed. Blood gushed rhythmically from my open wound, then from my eyes, my ears, my mouth.”
What My Students Could Learn From It
We Were Liars is a great commentary on wealth, privilege, and prejudice in America.
It also teaches an interesting lesson on the stupid decisions teenagers make that end up with far-reaching, tragic consequences. I think MANY of my students could certainly use a lesson on that.