Everything about the Sinclair family—from their golden retrievers, to their tennis matches, to their blond hair, and bank accounts— gives the impression of perfection. We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart, follows the faultless Sinclair family, who vacation on Beechwood Island, their private property off the coast of Massachusetts, every summer. There, Cady Sinclair, her cousins Mirren and Johnny, and Gat Patil spend their days tanning on the beach, boating to shops in Martha’s Vineyard, and living lavishly on the enormous wealth their grandfather collected and put toward developing the family’s island. Cady has some of the best summers of her life, making memories with her cousins, the Liars, and falling in love with Gat at Beechwood. After an accident one summer, however, Cady starts finding gaps in her memory and enduring daily migraines. For years after the incident, her parents keep her away from Beechwood, and when she finally returns, Cady is determined to figure out what happened during her “accident.” She wants to discover why no one will tell her the truth about the day she was found lying helplessly on the beach, and why nothing has been the same since.
Cady, the eldest Sinclair grandchild and heiress to the family island and fortune, grows up relishing her life of wealth at Beechwood, until she falls in love with Gat Patil. Gat, a boy from a much different background than Cady, opens her eyes to the less fortunate in the world. With Gat’s influence, combined with her faltering memory, Cady loses her attachment to the items she has collected in her island bedroom over the years, and donates them to Goodwill. This is the first major aspect of Cady’s character development; she realizes the material possessions she has been taught to obsess over are not important. Unlike her aunts who fight over who gets the biggest house on the island, Cady rejects the greed that runs in her relatives’ veins and vows to change things.
We Were Liars is absolutely captivating. Lockhart keeps the reader in suspense throughout the entire novel, and until the truth is revealed in the final chapter, the reader is just as much in the dark about the Sinclair family secrets as Cady is. It is fun to uncover the truth with the main character and to try to interpret the clues the author drops along the way. Meg Rosoff says in her review of the story in The New York Times, “Fantasy Island,” “Cadence’s story emerges from deep within this troubled family,” which I entirely agree with. Cady’s transition from being just another Sinclair to an open-minded, selfless, and caring individual is uplifting to witness. and throughout her journey there, the reader has something to root for. Additionally, the way the pieces of the puzzle fit perfectly together at the end of the story made it an enjoyable read.
Rosoff also commented in her review that there is not enough character development or description for Mirren, Johnny, and Gat. I agree that Lockhart could have given these characters more attention, but then again, one of the most compelling factors of Cady’s character development is that she changed even when the family around her refused to.
We Were Liars is full of mystery, family drama, and excitement, and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes a good plot twist. The ending was unexpected and thrilling, and the tension builds until the big-reveal ending, which is my favorite part of the story. I rate this novel 5/5 stars, because it caught and held my attention from the very first chapter and I enjoyed every page through the end. You will not be able to put down We Were Liars.
Sources: Rosoff, Meg. “Fantasy Island.” The New York Times, 14 June 2018, www.nytimes.com/2014/05/11/books/review/we-were-liars-by-e-lockhart.html.
(Copyright 2019 Lily Starrs)