Goodreads: We Were Liars
Series: Liars #2
Age Category: Young Adult
Each summer, the Sinclair family goes to their private island near Martha’s Vineyard. On her fifteenth summer, Cadence Sinclair Eastman wakes up on the beach one day with no memory of how she got there. Two years later, she returns to the island, hoping to remember what happened that fateful night.
We Were Liars is the perfect summer read, a story that takes readers on a journey to an idyllic island where youth is eternal and summer is full of possibilities. Even Cadence’s slow realization that her family is damaged and that her past harbors a terrible secret cannot wholly take away the magic and the beauty that the novel evokes. It made me think of beach days and cloud watching and first kisses. The tragedy slowly creeps in, however, as Cadence regains her memory, mingling pathos with beauty. Nostalgic, atmospheric, and experimental, We Were Liars is not a read I was expecting, but one that will linger with me.
The official summary of We Were Liars is so vague, that I have in fact never desired to read the book. I had, after all, no idea what it was about, except a vague understanding that it usually makes lists for best YA thrillers/mysteries. But, since the library seemed short on audiobooks, I decided to pick it up just to have something to listen to. And I began to imagine the most shocking and disturbing possibilities for the big reveal that I was sure was coming. But…I was also baffled because We Were Liars did not read like a thriller. It reads like a story of first loves, and a bit like a story about grief. I was prepared for a story along the lines of McManus’ books, and got something totally different. And I began to understand why all the summaries of We Were Liars are so purposefully vague.
The real delight in We Were Liars is that it is a meandering story with seemingly little idea where it is going. Cadence narrates her fond memories of summers on the island, revels in her crush on Gat, and slowly starts to realize that the perfect Sinclair family is anything but. She says she wants to uncover the mystery of her amnesia, but does not always seem dedicated to that. Instead, she recalls favorite moments of the past, ponders her current sense of displacement, occasionally feels guilt about her privilege and, above all, tries to make sense of the broken edges of her family. The story is a like a bit of dandelion fluff floating on the wind. To say anything more is to ruin the ending.
Since We Were Liars is somewhat of an experimental book, I can imagine that the experience is not for everyone. For me, however, it was a beautiful look at love, grief, and family–all the messiness that makes up life.