Book Review: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

I tend to be pretty jaded when it comes to book recommendations or rave reviews. This is partly because I read so many reviews of so many books. I can spend an entire eight hour day each week reading reviews of books in professional journals at work. (Then I go home and read blogs.).

And I still know that even if I read a hundred books a year, there might be ten or less that when I finish the last page, I want to start over and read it again. There may only be a handful of books I want to make everyone else read so I can talk about them. Even fewer I think that the potential to appeal to a really wide audience and a lot of different types of readers.

It’s not many books that I will want to quote at length, because they are full of so many god damn great sentences. And it is still rarer to encounter a books that hits all of my sweet spots as a reader—a strong sense of place and a narrator with such a compelling, distinctive voice.

It’s even less likely for me to find a book that has these good sentences and particular appeal factors I enjoy yet is also able to take a topic I’m not really pre-disposed to like—a book set on a private island and whose basic plot revolves around the difficulties of being rich and privileged—and make the personal conflicts and characters so real that I’m completely drawn into the story.

We Were Liars is totally that book.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

PublishedMay 13th 2014 by Delacorte Press/Random House
Find: Amazon | Goodreads | Library
Source: ARC from publisher
Genre: YA Contemporary, Mystery
Perspective: 1st person, unreliable narrator

Synopsis (Goodreads): A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.

Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

My thoughts:

It’s better to go into We Were Liars with no expectations. The synopsis does a perfect job of telling you what it is about and is written in a style that mimics that of the story.  If you don’t want any more of an impression about what it is about, stop reading.

But, if you do read We Were Liars, I believe you’ll forgive me for continuing to discuss the book without going into too much detail.

Cady, the narrator of We Were Liars tells a story by weaving together the past and the present.: Summer Fifteen, when she fell in love but then suffered an accident that stole her memories and left her with debilitating migraines, and the first time she has returned to the island since, two years later. Sprinkled in are modern day fairy tales that re-imagine her world and the conflicts within them.

We Were Liars is about privilege and race, loss and guilt, family dynamics and true love, friendship and finding oneself. It’s beautifully crafted, elegant and suspenseful, and ultimately, worth the hype.


Recommended for fans of: Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma (my review), Liar by Justine Larbalestier,  Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley (my review), and Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn


Second opinions:

Publisher’s Weekly: “Lockhart has created a mystery with an ending most readers won’t see coming, one so horrific it will prompt some to return immediately to page one to figure out how they missed it. At the center of it is a girl who learns the hardest way of all what family means, and what it means to lose the one that really mattered to you.”

April @ Good Books Good Wine: “This is a story of privilege, family, first love, and golden retrievers. We Were Liars is a story of bad life choices.”

Teen Librarian’s Toolkit: “It’s a challenging read, taking on the theme of deception.  We are, after all, dealing with a group of people who call themselves the Liars.  It’s about how we deceive each other, those around us and, most importantly, ourselves.  Thought provoking, with some gothic overtones, mystery, and amazing twists and turns along the way.  Highly recommended.”

Reading Rants: “Mystery? Check. Romance? Check. Family DRA-mah? Check. Unexpectedly awesome, never-saw-it-coming ending? Check, check! I wish I could tell you more about this book about a girl, her two cousins and the love of her life. But to say too much about this story of a family slowly rotting from the inside out because of greed and fear would be a great disservice. You should get the chance to savor this delicious narrative of privilege, love and madness on a private island for yourself.”

Brittany @ Book Addict’s Guide: “I did enjoy the ending. It didn’t knock my socks off, as previously stated, but it’s a concept I really love and enjoy and totally commend authors for pulling off. That being said, I was also a bit disappointed with it at the same time.”


4 thoughts on “Book Review: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

  1. I loved the way you set up your review here! Yours is not the first review I’ve read that told me it’s best to read this with very little expectations/knowledge beforehand. That honestly intrigues me more than any long (albeit eloquently written) review could, to be honest. I haven’t read anything by E. Lockhart yet, but I’m pretty sure this will be the first. To know how strongly this book affected you is wonderful. I can’t wait to read this!

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