Back in 2011 I picked up E. Lockhart’s The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks and loved it. In fact, it made my list of top books for 2011, so when I saw the news about We Were Liars, I immediately put it on hold when it became available at the library. And then I waited. And I waited. And then I forgot about it and the hold expired so I put it back on the list again and I waited. And waited. Finally, last month it came available so I checked it out and then it sat untouched on my desk. And it sat. And it sat. And then, with only a few days to spare (it’s due back today), I decided I would make it my last book of 2014.
The bad news is, this book is difficult to discuss without giving away some important plot elements. The good news is, it was absolutely worth the wait, and I’m so happy I was able to end the reading year on a high note.
Cadence Sinclair Eastman (Cady) is part of a venerable, blue-blooded New England family, the Sinclairs of Boston. For all of her life, during summers she has visited her grandparents on their private island, Beechwood, near Martha’s Vineyard. Her grandfather built houses for each of his three daughters, and summer after summer, regardless of marital turmoil or other life events, the sisters have visited the island with the children in tow. Cady spent every summer of her life with her cousins Johnny and Mirren, and then when she was eight years old, her Aunt Carrie (Johnny’s mother) brings her partner Ed, who is Indian, and Ed’s nephew Gat, to the island with her, and Cady’s life is forever changed, as the four of them form an enduring bond. They call themselves The Liars.
The book opens during what Cady calls Summer Seventeen (the summer she and the Liars are 17 years old). Cady has not been to the island since Summer Fifteen, when she suffered a head injury after a diving accident. She did not return to the island during Summer Sixteen, and she has mysteriously heard nothing from the other Liars over the two years she has not seen them. She has pockets of time she cannot remember. She endures debilitating migraine headaches. She hopes that the Liars can help her recover her memory of events and help her regain a sense of normalcy.
That’s it. That’s all I can tell you. Just know that you are in the hands of a skilled storyteller. Pay no attention to the fact that this book is marketed as Young Adult if you tend to avoid that sort of thing, because this is a book about family, and about pain and loss and friendship and love. Lockhart also does such a wonderful job at showing us the insular, privileged world of the Sinclair family, of making the island such a vivid place that we can smell the salt air, see the waves, and imagine the soft summer breezes. I’m happy to join the chorus of other bloggers and readers who highly recommend this book, and I can’t wait to read what E. Lockhart writes next.
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